Heijunka is For Thinking Too

This week between Christmas and New Year is commonly wasted by US manufacturers. I get the holiday spirit, and that people need to relax and have personal time. But can your business afford to lose 2-3% productivity every year-end?

Heijunka is a part of the Toyota Production System thinking system; most of us think of it as a tool. But that important concept of level-loading to eliminate less visible wastes is a critical thought process.

Most consider Muda the form of waste to be eliminated, but it is only one family of waste. Mura is the family of wastes that emanate from unevenness, irregularity and lack of uniformity. An even flow of product and information will always be superior to that of start-stop.

What does that have to do with Christmas and New Year?

That same thinking process should be applied to how we observe, reflect, learn and improve. In fact, the phrase continuous improvement reflects just that. Why do so few of us actually continuously improve? Simply we seem to favor the “slam on the accelerator; then slam on the brakes” approach.

While performing the traditional year-end exercise of looking back to see what we could or should do differently this next year, ask yourself if the most important change would be to observe, reflect, learn, and apply every single day?

Heijunka thinking applies to our thinking, not just to production.

Let’s make that the lesson learned this last year and implement the improvement immediately. Why would you wait?

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