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Fundamental mindset that drives improvements towards lean production

Yuji Yamamoto (School of Innovation, Design, and Engineering, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden)
Monica Bellgran (School of Innovation, Design, and Engineering, Mälardalen University, Eskilstuna, Sweden)

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 20 April 2010




The purpose of the paper is to present a fundamental mindset that an experienced Japanese Toyota Production System (TPS) consultant has when he drives a series of improvement activities during a lean transformation.


The main author of this paper conducted participant observations on two lean transformation cases at two medium‐sized Swedish manufacturing companies. The studied lean transformations are driven by the mentioned Japanese consultant. Before he became a consultant, he had practiced TPS more than 20 years at a supplier company of Toyota.


Instead of making a detailed plan to implement lean production, the consultant focuses on creating the need for improvement. The identified fundamental mindset that drives a lean transformation can be described as “occasionally by force, create a situation where people have no choice (or little choice) but to feel the need of improvement. The situation is such that it brings different problems up to surface. Through letting people solve the problems one‐by‐one, the performance of the operation as well as the capability of individual and organizational learning are improved.” Various lean techniques are simply used based on the surfaced problems.


The recent research shows that a contingent nature is required in lean transformation, especially when it requires an organizational cultural change. However, a limited number of researches have shown practical ways of conducting a lean transformation with a contingent approach. The paper identifies a simple but practical way of doing it.



Yamamoto, Y. and Bellgran, M. (2010), "Fundamental mindset that drives improvements towards lean production", Assembly Automation, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 124-130.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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