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Friday, July 30, 2010

Customer Driven

This year Toyota has requested independent outside evaluations of its product quality improvement system as part of an ongoing drive to enhance its global system of collecting and analyzing information from the customer. One assessment released a few weeks ago (June 30) by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) found several new measures “especially promising.”

The report highlights:

• New process called Design Review Based on Failure Mode (DRBFM) was added. Based on the principle of Mieruka (making any important factor in a process visible at the actual work site), the process requires engineers to make a thorough comparison between existing problem-free technologies and all modifications or new technologies to be introduced. By following the standardized process, engineers analyze the implications of any differences that exist between current standard and new standard from the customer viewpoint.

• Regional technical office network was expanded and upgraded to respond more quickly in conducting onsite investigations of reports of serious quality issues (Toyota’s so-called SMART activities, an acronym for Swift Market Analysis and Response Team)

• Unified design responsibility for crucial components was assigned to single divisions (instead of spreading that responsibility across multiple divisions, as occurred formerly) and it has established a separate division to spearhead improvements in design quality--Design Quality Innovation Division, staffed by about 40 engineers—based on customer input in design standards. This is in addition to one hundred or so engineers now employed in the Product Audit Department.

• Customer First training centers will be established in each region to cultivate quality assurance professionals and to ensure information from customers is captured so that it can be fed back to the design process.

The report also suggested:

• More field personnel than Toyota’s present plans and training to equip the field personnel to function effectively from a customer perspective

• Stepping up training for dealers’ maintenance and repair personnel to prevent problems; for example, floor mat interference with accelerator pedals.

• Developing and applying further criteria for evaluating suppliers. Beyond technical capabilities, the report suggested analysis in terms of management expertise and implicit risk.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Conference on Personal Meaning

My uncle is a distinguished and highly respected specialist who holds a PhD in psychology. He is involved in a unique conference called "Conference on Personal Meaning."  I think we can all benefit from learning more about ourselves.  Here's the info:

The International Network on Personal Meaning (INPM) is pleased to announce the 6th Biennial International Meaning Conference to be held August 5-8, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. The main conference theme this year is: Creating a psychologically healthy workplace: Meaning, spirituality and engagement and is co-hosted by the INPM and Sunshine Coast Health Centre.

In today's highly competitive global economy, building human strengths and fostering resilience at the personal and organizational levels are more important now than ever before. This conference focuses on the positive psychology of meaning, virtues, spirituality, personal responsibility, and worker engagement in enhancing well-being and productivity. The pre-conference workshops emphasize positive psychotherapy, strengths-based assessment, existential and spiritually oriented clinical skills, etc.
INPM brings together world's leading thinkers, researcher, and practitioners to tackle the challenge of creating positive organizations that can survive and flourish in a difficult and uncertain economic time.

The conference will place a premium on providing delegates with opportunities for interactions with speakers and other delegates. Through the principle of collective strategic networking, we hope the conference will facilitate a new vision for the 21st Century and help define what it means to be a psychologically healthy workplace.
We welcome participation by psychologists, counsellors, business & life coaches, human resource specialists, organizational scholars, business consultants, occupational health & safety personnel, as well as leaders in business, industry and non-profit organizations. Students and anyone interested in developing a fulfilling career or vocation are also welcome.
For more information, please go to:

Dr. Paul Wong Brief Bio

Dr. Paul T. P. Wong received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Toronto. He has held professorial positions at various universities, such as York University, University of Toronto, and Trent University. As the Founding Director of the Graduate Program in Counselling Psychology at Trinity Western University (TWU), he has established an accredited and widely recognized graduate program. More recently, he served as the Division Chair of Psychology and Business Administration at Tyndale University College. He had been a visiting scientist to the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of British Columbia. He has been invited to lecture in numerous universities in Asia and North America. Currently, he devotes most to his time to writing and private practice.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A few more photos

from our beautiful cruise on Friday.....

Photos from LSI Dinner Cruise!

LSI hosted a dinner cruise on Friday around our beautiful Vancouver harbour!  We had a splended time with our clients on a perfect summer evening.

Click below to see all of our photos from this great evening.

LSI Summer Cruise 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fascinating insights about Japan

Thanks to our friend Ron from Japan:

1. More than 70% of Japan consists of mountains, including more than 200 volcanoes. While poor in natural resources, it is more successful than most in making use of human resources to compete with other countries.

2. Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan, is an active volcano. It is said that one must climb Mt. Fuji once in one’s life, but “only a fool does it twice.”

3. Before climbing Mt. Fuji, how about a traditional breakfast? …

steamed rice, soy bean paste soup, and side dishes such as grilled fish, a small sweet rolled omelet, pickles, dried seaweed, fermented beans, and salad. It tastes a lot better than it sounds!

4. Sometimes the trains are so crowded railway staff are employed to cram passengers inside. But always the staffs wear white gloves when they do their cramming. Speaking of cramming, more than a million people are estimated to pass through Shinjuku Station every day.

5. Many Japanese celebrate Christmas with the purchase of Kentucky fried chicken and a birthday cake.

6. There are four different writing systems in Japan, romaji, katakana, hiragana, and kanji.

7. Japan is more than green tea. Coffee is very popular and Japan imports approximately 85% of Jamaica's annual coffee production.

8. Many toilets in Japan are heated, have a built-in bidet and a sound system to cover up embarassing noises. Most homes have special bathroom slippers that folks slip on each time they enter the toilet area.

9. When moving into an apartment it is often required to give the landlord a "gift" of money equal to two months' rent. This is called “key money”. The key is not gold-coated.
10. When traveling at top speed (300km/h or 187mph) the shinkansen requires 3 minutes and 45 seconds to come to a complete stop. Trains on some routes run approximately every 5 minutes. The trains leave on schedule to the minute under normal circumstances.

11. Shaving your head is a way to show contrition in Japan.

12. The term karaoke means "empty orchestra" in Japanese. Your “juhachiban” or “no. 18” is the song that you feel most comfortable to perform at a karaoke club as it is the song you sing best—or have sung the most!

13. On average, it takes about 7-10 years of intensive training to become a fugu (blowfish) chef. This training may not be needed in the future as some fish farms in Japan are producing non-poisonous fugu.

14. Ovens are not very common in Japanese kitchens. Most people use gas table and/or microwave oven. Refrigerators are small, freezer compartments are smaller! Daily shopping for food is the norm.

15. Japanese snowmen are made with two balls, not three. The man in the moon is seen as a rabbit.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Original Guiding Principles at Toyota

Honor the language and spirit of the law of every nation and undertake open and fair corporate activities to be a good corporate citizen of the world.

Respect the culture and customs of every nation and contribute to economic and social development through corporate activities in the communities.

Dedicate ourselves to providing clean and safe products and to enhancing the quality of life everywhere through all our activities.

Create and develop advanced technologies and provide outstanding products and services that fulfill the needs of customers worldwide.

Foster a corporate culture that enhances individual creativity and teamwork value, while honoring mutual trust and respect between labor and management.

Pursue growth in harmony with the global community through innovative management.

Work with business partners in research and creation to achieve stable, long-term growth and mutual benefits, while keeping ourselves open to new partnerships.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How to exchange business cards in Japan

Lean Sensei has taken more than 350 people to Japan as part of the Japan Lean Tour.  This is the birthplace of Toyota Way and until you see the Toyota Plant in Toyota City, you haven't quite seen the "real" lean plant.  But before you even step into Japan, there are few things to keep in mind.  Over the next several days, we will show you some insights about Japan and Toyota.

First, you have to learn how to exchange business cards properly in Japan!  Take a look at this great video from youtube.

Monday, July 19, 2010

LSI Connection

What is LSI Connection?  Stay tuned, as we will announce more information later this week!  Sneak preview of the logo for LSI Connection can be seen below:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Latest letter from Jim Womack

Here's the latest letter from Jim Womack, author of Lean Thinking:

Dear David

My LEI colleague Dave LaHote is fond of saying that managers - and especially senior managers - overestimate their effectiveness, particularly as they seek to improve their organizations through formal initiatives. And they underestimate the impact (often negative) of their daily personal actions on employees. Recently I witnessed a striking example while visiting a metal casting plant in a developing country owned by a multi-national headquartered in a highly developed country. (I hope you will understand why I'm careful not to identify places I visit unless I can offer praise. I try to show respect for my hosts when they allow me to be a guest at their gemba and I truly want them to do better. Public shame and blame can never be an effective means to that end.)

The plant was in an inherently dangerous industry and I was surprised and pleased to see a visual display at the entrance to the shop floor showing the causes of reportable injuries in the past month. It was very detailed and up to date. The senior plant managers accompanying me stated that it truly focused everyone's mind on safety and was part of a comprehensive safety-awareness program mandated by headquarters to reduce injuries.

But then I did some math. The chart showed that in the last month 12 percent of the plant's workers had lost days from work due to injuries! And the chart also indicated that this was a typical month. Simple arithmetic showed that the average worker could expect to be injured to the extent of losing time from work once every 8 months! There seemed to be a yawning gap between the goals of the safety initiative and the results, and I wondered why as I continued my walk through the facility.
As it happened, the plant was experiencing a serious quality issue with its massive engine castings for heavy-duty vehicles. As a result a senior manager from headquarters had just arrived. Our paths crossed at the shaking table designed to knock the remaining sand out of the castings as they tumbled down a chute from the molding operation. Just as I walked up, the senior manager was explaining that to solve a problem it was important to trace it to the source, which might be the shaking table. And suddenly this very large man mustered surprising strength and agility to swing himself by an overhead bar up onto the shaking table while it operated, as massive castings tumbled down the chute and bounded across the table toward him.

At first I thought this was a crazy risking of this senior manager's own life. But then, as I turned to see the looks on the workers' faces as they stood watching him, I realized that it was more likely that he was risking their lives in the future. The official message of the company's senior management was that injuries were a top priority for management, to be reduced through a comprehensive safety program. But the actions of one senior manager -- well intentioned in the sense that managers certainly should go to the source of problems rather than talk about them in a conference room -- sent an opposite and much more powerful message: If you want to get ahead around here you need to dive in and take action without regard to risks. Will this become, I wondered, a case of homicide by example?

This was a single and blatant instance, of course, and especially upsetting for me because I had just driven through the remote shanty town where the front-line workers lived, with little chance for good wages beyond this one plant. But as I thought about what I had seen I realized that I see less salient and dangerous examples all the time in my travels.

For example, recently I have seen many instances of managers trying to turn over a new leaf by deploying hoshin kanri, A3 analysis, and standardized work (including for line managers) as part of comprehensive lean programs. And the workforce usually responds very positively. But then something goes wrong in the operation or the newly minted "lean" managers just get tired after a long day. And the modern manager that lurks in us all springs forth to give top-down direction, to prescribe a solution before there is any agreement on the problem, or to resort to workarounds without documentation that undercut all efforts to impose standards. (I could relate more than a few examples from our own organization involving its leader -- me -- but will spare myself the pain. Suffice to say that I am often guilty as charged.)
Fortunately, I sometimes see counter examples as well. A few weeks ago I spent a day with a CEO I will call Bob as he struggled to stick with his efforts to manage and improve his company's core processes by A3. He was going against an entire work life of giving orders from his office and managing by results and his A3's really weren't very good. He struggled in particular with getting to the root cause. And I noted that the other elements of his company's lean initiative were pretty rough as well, especially efforts to achieve basic stability in core processes.
But I was struck by Bob's doggedness, even at the end of a long day when many things had gone wrong and he was tempted to revert to old ways. And I saw the remarkable effect he was having on his direct reports, who were getting out of their offices and asking questions they had never asked before, while struggling with their far-from-perfect A3s. What I was seeing was the powerful impact of positive personal example in a situation where the formal elements of the company's lean initiative did not yet appear to be sophisticated or effective. I knew that a year or two from now, Bob's organization will be far down the path toward a lean enterprise while the casting plant will still have a glossy safety program with nothing to show for it.

So I urge everyone, and I certainly include myself, to do a bit of hansei (critical self-reflection) at frequent intervals. Ask a simple question: Is the message that I and the other leaders of my organization are sending through formal rules, programs, initiatives, and new management tools like A3, the same as the message we are sending daily through our personal example? And if not, what can we do to make our walk consistent with our talk?

Best regards,


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Toyota and Tesla Begins Joint Development

Toyota, Tesla Said to Prepare Electric RAV4, RX Prototypes

Source: Bloomberg

Toyota Motor Corp. and Tesla Motors Inc. will develop battery-powered test versions of the Japanese carmaker’s RAV4 and Lexus RX in the first stage of a partnership in electric vehicles, a person familiar with the matter said.

Tesla said July 10 that it will deliver two prototypes vehicles to Toyota this month without identifying the models. While Toyota also aims to test an electric Corolla compact car, the RAV4 and RX light trucks are better suited to the weight of Tesla’s battery pack, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the vehicles haven’t been announced yet.

Toyota’s President Akio Toyoda said last week the partnership with Tesla, maker of the $109,000 electric Roadster, is the first of several the Toyota City, Japan-based company wants to pursue in advanced auto technologies. Toyota, the world’s largest seller of hybrid autos, bought a $50 million stake in Palo Alto, California-based Tesla this month.

“We anticipate range and acceleration exceeding that of other announced electric vehicles of this class,” Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla, said today in an e-mailed message. He declined to discuss project details.

Keisuke Kirimoto, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Toyota, said he couldn’t confirm the models. Toyota bought its stake in Tesla July 2, he said.

‘Cost Advantage’

The target for a model developed with Tesla would be for a car that costs about $40,000 with 150 miles (240 kilometers) of driving range per charge, the person familiar with the plans said.

“Toyota and Tesla engineering teams have made a lot of progress in a short amount of time,” JB Straubel, Tesla’s chief technology officer, said in a July 10 e-mail message.

Toyota’s American depositary receipts, each representing two ordinary shares, rose 13 cents to $71.20 at 9:44 a.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The shares were unchanged at 3,120 yen today in Tokyo trading. Tesla, which listed shares last month, rose 42 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $17.82 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading.

Carmakers are under pressure from regulators to develop models that use little or no petroleum and emit fewer gases linked to global warming.

Unlike Toyota, Nissan Motor Co., and other companies readying battery models, Tesla vehicles use thousands of the same type of small lithium-ion battery cells that power laptop computers.

Panasonic Venture

Toyota Executive Vice President Shinichi Sasaki told reporters Friday in Nagoya, Japan, that the company wants to study that approach to see if it has advantages over using larger types of battery cells.

Panasonic Corp., which has a joint venture with Toyota that makes nickel-metal hydride batteries for hybrid autos and lithium-ion batteries for plug-in models, said in January it would work with Tesla to develop modified lithium-ion cells for use in electric cars.

“Since Tesla didn’t develop its battery pack from scratch, there’s a cost advantage,” said Hiroshi Ataka, an analyst at consulting company IHS Global Insight in Tokyo.

Nissan, Japan’s third-largest carmaker, plans to start selling its Leaf electric car in the U.S. and Japan later this year. General Motors Co., the Detroit-based carmaker planning an initial public offering, will also introduce its Chevrolet Volt plug-in car in the U.S. late this year.

Toyota’s project with Tesla is separate from a previously announced electric car Toyota aims to sell by 2012, Toyoda said last week.

“While Toyota may be studying Tesla’s technology, Toyota has been researching its own electric car batteries, so it may be unlikely to use Tesla’s,” Ataka said.

Unintended Acceleration appears to be driver's fault

Breaking news from Wall Street Journal

After receiving more than 3,000 reports of sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles, the U.S. Department of Transportation has concluded that driver error was actually at fault. According to The Wall Street Journal, investigators analyzing different data recorders from Toyota vehicles found that at the time of these sudden acceleration crashes, the throttles were wide open rather and the brakes were not depressed. Thus, they have reason to believe that drivers were mistakenly stomping on the accelerator rather than slamming the brakes in an attempt to avoid these crashes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Brief history of Mr. Toyoda

Live LEAN T-shirt

Some people have already emailed us to say that they love the idea of "live LEAN" theme, so we are seriously thinking about creating live LEAN T-shirts. Simple design like this may suffice..... what do you think? 

Friday, July 9, 2010


For early part of 2010, LSI focused on "Go Lean" theme - no doubt influenced by our passion for the Olympic here in Vancouver (where the theme was "Go World"). But now that the Olympic is over, perhaps it's time to look at the concept of "Go Lean" from a different perspective.

So I was thinking that maybe it's "Live Lean." but with the focus on "lean" portion, which means that the phrase should really say "Live LEAN" (where lean is in capitals). The idea here is that applying lean thinking and lean principles has to go well beyond the methodologies and system we often talk about....because we really have to breath, live, and endorse lean in all we do in our lives if we were to become true lean believers and lean evangelists.

So what do you think?  Does "Live LEAN" makes sense to you?  Do you like the idea?  Let us know, because we may just surprise you by designing a "Live LEAN" T-shirt if enough people show interest. We might even give some away.

While you are thinking, download these Live LEAN wallpapers and enjoy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


This just came through our contact at Toyota:


San Francisco Field Office Launches This Month; Seven North American Offices Planned

Significantly Enhances Field Data Collection and Technical Capabilities

TORRANCE, Calif., July 8, 2010 – Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA., Inc., today announced that it is expanding its Product Quality Field Office program to four additional US regional sales areas over the next 12 months, following the success of a pilot program launched in the New York region in late 2009. TMS also announced that it will officially open its newest Product Quality Field Office in San Francisco this month, and Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) announced that it will establish Product Quality Field Offices in Toronto and Calgary, for a total of seven offices across North America.

Staffed by technical and engineering specialists with expertise drawn from across Toyota's global operations, these Product Quality Field Offices strengthen Toyota's North American field technical presence and data gathering and reporting capabilities, enhancing the company's ability to detect, analyze and respond to customer and quality issues in the field.

Product Quality Field Offices are being established with the mandate to investigate specific field quality issues related to unique regional, geographical or environmental conditions in each area. The New York region office was developed to investigate the performance of Toyota, Lexus and Scion vehicles in cold weather climates, with an emphasis on corrosion issues. The new San Francisco office will focus on hybrid vehicle systems and durability, capitalizing on the high concentration of these vehicles in the California market.

Toyota is currently evaluating opening additional offices in Jacksonville, FL to focus on heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and drivability; Houston, TX to concentrate on trucks and chassis components; and Denver, CO to study high altitude performance and SUV models. Offices in Toronto and Calgary will focus on extreme seasonal temperature changes and high road salt usage, as well as unique vehicle operating conditions.

"Everyone at Toyota is working aggressively to understand what our customers are experiencing and to respond quickly to their needs by enhancing our information gathering capabilities," said Dino Triantafyllos, Vice President, Quality Division, Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing (TEMA). "The expansion of our Product Quality Field Offices initiative is one example of the significant changes we are making across our North American operations to help ensure that we are a quality-focused and responsive organization."

Product Quality Field Offices will also provide technical support to dealership service personnel and Regional Field Staff; and "specialized response" capabilities for Toyota's Swift Market Analysis Response Teams (SMART), which play a key role in Toyota's rapid-response investigations into customer reports of unintended acceleration.

The expansion of the Product Quality Field Office program is the latest milestone in Toyota's North American efforts to implement President Akio Toyoda's six-point action plan to improve global quality. The action plan includes a top-to-bottom review of Toyota's quality assurance processes in all aspects of its global operations including design, manufacturing and after-market support

Team Conflict

Here's an interesting article from Harvard Business Review on Team Conflict:

The conflicts that often arise in teams can make you want to throw up your arms in despair, retreat to your office, and live out your career in team-less bliss. But collaboration is here to stay, and while it isn't easy, putting more minds on the job usually yields better results. If your team has dissolved into arguments or two members just can't seem to get along, how can you get things back on track? How you do you turn a team marred by dysfunction into one that excels together?

What the Experts Say

Conflict is part of working on a team and, while it's often uncomfortable, it can also be healthy. "There will, even should be, conflict in a group with a task that has even a minimum of complexity," says Jeanne Brett, the DeWitt W. Buchanan, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations at Kellogg Graduate School of Management, the Director of the Kellogg School's Dispute Resolution Research Center, and co-author of Getting Disputes Resolved. Understanding why teams fight, how and when to get involved, and how to prevent fights in the future is a critical skill for all team leaders.

Stop Disputes Before They Happen

Unfortunately, most team leaders assume they'll deal with disagreements as they come up. But Brett advises doing more prep work than that — to have "solid conflict management procedures in place to deal with [conflicts] when they arise, because they will arise." These rules will also help you work through issues more quickly. "Solving disputes after they happen is a hell of a lot more work," adds Richard Boyatzis, Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and co-author of Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence.

Another important proactive measure is ensuring that your team shares the same purpose, values, and identity. Boyatzis says teams should "devote a certain amount of time to talking about the team itself." In these discussions, instead of focusing on easier, more concrete issues like goals and measurement, get the group to agree on its purpose first. Do this when the team forms, and throughout its existence. Boyatzis is part of a consortium that has met twice a year for the past decade. The group starts every meeting by reading aloud the team norms they agreed to ten years ago. He concedes that this might seem odd to an outsider but thinks this is what keeps the team grounded and focused.

How and When to Intervene

Some of the most common disputes include conflicts over tasks, working norms, or process. Regardless of why your team is fighting, following a few simple guidelines can help you resolve disputes quickly.

Intervene early. When two or more team members are engaged in a conflict, the sooner you step in the better. Once the dispute starts, emotions can run high, making it harder to diffuse the situation. Letting conflicts fester can result in hurt feelings and lasting resentment. Boyatzis points out that a simple disagreement can turn into a serious conflict in milliseconds, so it's critical for team managers to be aware of the team dynamics and sense when a disagreement is percolating.

Focus on team norms. The best approach to resolving disputes once they've erupted is to refer back to something the team can, or has already, agreed on. These may be explicit or implicit team norms. If you haven't previously discussed norms as a team, now is a good time to hold the conversation. Be careful not to frame the discussion around the dispute but to focus it on setting rules of engagement for going forward.

Identify a shared agreement. Your job as the team leader is to help the fighting team members reach an accord. "The key is to respect each party and the reason behind their point of view," says Brett. The only way to do this, according to Boyatzis, is to talk it through. He says that most team leaders "cut short dialogue or don't do it in an inclusive way." Once the cards are on the table, you need to "facilitate an outcome that takes into account both parties point of views," explains Brett. Compromise often has a bad connotation in the business world, but the resolution doesn't need to be a lowest common denominator answer. Rather, it should integrate both parties' interests. Whenever possible, connect the resolution back to shared purposes, values, or identity that can help both parties see eye to eye.

Moving On After a Disagreement

Boyatzis says the best way to heal war wounds is to start working again. Get a relatively easy task in front of the group to help them rebuild their confidence as a team. As the leader, you can model moving on and focusing on work. If people have been ostracized because of the dispute, make efforts to bring them back into the fold by assigning them an important task or soliciting their opinions. If feelings have been hurt, you may want to let the parties have a break and not directly work together for a short time. Going forward, it will be useful to establish a practice of regularly checking on how you all are working together. This will help you identify problems before they turn into full-fledged disputes.
Principles to Remember


Set up conflict management procedures before a conflict arises

Intervene early when a fight erupts between team members

Get the team working together again as soon as possible


Assume your team agrees on its shared purpose, values, or vision

Let conflicts fester or go unattended

Move on without first talking about the conflict as a team

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Extreme Gemba with Audi Cam

Watch your car being repaired!

Have you ever wondered what your mechanics are doing when repairing your car? Have you often wished “you were there” to actually watch the repair work? Well, Audi in UK has an answer for you – I call it the “extreme gemba” because the process allows the customers to watch and even talk directly with the mechanics as if they are there in “gemba” where the cars are being repaired.

Designed to get owners more involved in the repair process, the initiative forces dealership employees to wear a two-way radio and an “Audi Cam”. When owners take their car in for service, they sit in the waiting room and watch a live feed from the Audi Cam. If a problem arises, the customer can talk to the technician/service advisor over the two-way radio.

According to Audi's UK Director Jeremy Hicks, "Service departments throughout the industry are often accused of baffling customers with science - by offering ours full exposure to the work undertaken on their cars, and the ability to talk through that work with the technician involved, our aim is to demystify the process as fully as possible. We want to ensure that everyone who entrusts their Audi to us for servicing and repairs knows exactly where they stand and exactly what to expect."

Here’s the actual press release from Audi UK:


Pioneering new interactive audio visual system enables Audi customers to watch and communicate with Audi technicians as they work

• AudiDirect Reception system allowing customers to be more closely involved in work undertaken on their cars is currently being rolled out across Audi Centre network

• Technician wears ‘Audi Cam' which links to monitor in service reception, and communicates via two-way audio link

• Aim is to maximise ‘transparency' and instil even greater confidence by providing conclusive proof of problems in ‘real time'

• Fixed price servicing option now in place for A1 models

• Fixed price for five key maintenance jobs for A3, A4, A6 and TT models in excess of 36 months old and up to 2.0-litres in capacity

Candid cameras will soon be focused on all Audi Centre service areas as part of a new Direct Reception initiative being rolled out across the network that will enable Audi customers to view in ‘real time', and communicate with, technicians as they carry out diagnosis and repair work.

From the comfort of the Audi Centre reception area customers will have direct audio visual access to their cars as they are worked on by technicians equipped with ‘Audi Cams' and two-way audio links. They will be free to talk to the technicians directly, and service advisors will be on hand to answer any questions that arise. The aim is to provide full exposure to the investigative and corrective work undertaken, maximising ‘transparency' and instilling even greater confidence not only in the legitimacy of each diagnosis but also the quality of workmanship demonstrated by Audi trained technicians.

Customer feedback from Direct Reception pilot schemes has been overwhelmingly positive, with all participants polled so far confirming that they would recommend the service to others.

Commenting on the new initiative, Director of Audi UK Jeremy Hicks said: "Service departments throughout the industry are often accused of baffling customers with science - by offering ours full exposure to the work undertaken on their cars, and the ability to talk through that work with the technician involved, our aim is to demystify the process as fully as possible. We want to ensure that everyone who entrusts their Audi to us for servicing and repairs knows exactly where they stand and exactly what to expect."

As well as offering a straightforward, substantiated prognosis on the condition of every car, Audi Centres can also provide the added reassurance of fixed price maintenance to owners of A3, A4, A6 and TT models that are over 36 months old and powered by engines of up to (and including) 2.0-litres in capacity. Seven of the tasks carried out most frequently to these cars are covered by a fixed, all-inclusive and highly competitive price that applies nationally.

The tasks include major and minor services (£249 and £99 respectively), clutch replacement (front-wheel-drive £599, quattro £799), front and rear brake pad replacement (£99 front, £99 rear), front and rear pad and disc replacement (£229), front wiper blade replacement (£39), brake fluid change (£49) and cambelt replacement (£349).

Fixed price service plan for A1 customers

Buyers of the new Audi A1 premium compact hatchback can also specify an optional fixed price service plan which, for a one-off payment of just £250 (when the car is programmed to adhere to the long life service regime), will leave them safe in the knowledge that their servicing needs are covered financially for the first five years or 50,000 miles (whichever comes first).

All scheduled servicing, including brake fluid changes, is taken care of over this period, and any labour and parts (excluding items subject to wear and tear) involved are covered by a two-year Audi warranty.

Online service booking

Servicing for all Audi models can now be booked online by visiting and clicking on ‘owners area'.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A small Toyota repair shop practices the art of huddle

A small automotive repair shop, located in Toyota city just outside the Toyota headquarters in Japan, practices the art of morning huddle everyday. They meet for 10 minutes before the shop opens, and discuss various issues and key topics for the day. They finish off the huddle each day by thanking each other and thanking the customers (who have not walked into the shop yet!). These guys take huddle seriously.

Please take a look!

What is LPS?

Did you know that our problem solving methodology - called Lean Problem Solving or LPS for short - is our most advanced form of kaizen?  This is how we solve problems ranging from simple office issues to complex, international projects involving dozen countries.  At our most recent project at Walmart, we also used the LPS methodology.

Here's an example of LPS kaizen we did in Belgium:

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Do you know what Gemba means?  Do you practice the "gemba approach" to lean thinking?  Let's reflect on this subject....


Source: wikipedia

Genba (現場 genba?) is a Japanese term meaning "the actual place" or "the real place." Japanese detectives call the crime scene genba, and Japanese TV reporters may refer to themselves as reporting from genba. In business, genba refers to the place where value is created; in manufacturing the genba is the factory floor. It can be any "site" such as a construction site, sales floor or where the service provider interacts directly with the customer.

In lean manufacturing, the idea of genba is that the problems are visible and the best improvement ideas will come from going to the genba. The genba walk, much like MBWA or Management by Walking Around, is an activity that takes management to the front lines to look for waste and opportunities to practice genba kaizen, or practical shopfloor improvement.

In quality management, genba means the manufacturing floor and the idea is that if a problem occurs, the engineers must go there to understand the full impact of the problem, gathering data from all sources. Unlike focus groups and surveys, genba visits are not scripted or bound by what one wants to ask.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The world map of car companies

Here's an interesting "world map" of how the various car companies exist as of today.  It shows who owns who and how they are connected.

source: CAR magazine

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Canada!

This wallpaper we created earlier received a lot of positive feedback, so we are posting it again for everyone!