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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How Can Making Toast Teach You About Lean?

What simpler, more familiar, process is there than making toast? No matter your background, education, or culture everyone has made toast at some point. Why not use this process to explain kaizen and teach people how to “see” the eight wastes? Well that is exactly what the Greater Boston Manufacturing Partnership (GBMP) has done in a video called “Toast Kaizen”.

GBMP is a not-for-profit corporation whose sole focus is to help companies become more productive, GBMP is a not-for-profit corporation whose sole focus is to help manufacturing companies become more productive

This is #1 selling Lean training tool in the world and is the perfect introduction to Continuous Improvement. This video teaches the 7 wastes: Defects, Over-Production, Waiting, Transportation, Inventory, Excess Motion, and Over-Processing.

Narrated by and featuring Bruce Hamilton, Shingo Prize Recipient and GBMP President, this 27-minute video highlights the seven deadly wastes found in both administrative offices and in manufacturing processes. In this training tool, the process of making toast is used to represent the before condition and the target condition of a manufacturing or transaction-based process and helps your people to identify with the process of Kaizen (small and continuous improvements). Whether you are already on the Continuous Improvement journey or you are just beginning to realize the power of continuous improvement implementation, this video is an essential learning tool for your entire workforce.

This video can be a great tool to train customers and suppliers in continuous improvement as well. It doesn’t matter the language or industry or even their level of lean knowledge, all can relate to the activity in this video.


In many cases our organizations are not as simple as making toast. Our factories and businesses are not confined to a relatively small space like a kitchen. The situation many of us find is more complex, more interconnected, and more difficult to see as a whole. A method that is used to “learn to see” this waste is the Value Stream Map (VSM). GBMP has followed up the “Toast Kaizen” video with a video series called “Toast VSM”. Here they teach you how to map out the material and information flow through direct observation of the current state. Then they show you how to find the waste, create a target condition, and an action plan using an A3 to achieve the target condition.

In 2004, GBMP released Toast Kaizen, a short video to demonstrate the importance of direct observation in continuous improvement. It is now used around the world (in 14 languages) to help explain the true meaning of Kaizen. In reality, as viewers observe the 2004 toast-making process, they are witnessing an already improved process, one where much Muda, Mura and Muri have already been remove as the modern-day kitchen is fairly well organized already. But this is not so in most other endeavors.

According to Bruce Hamilton (the Toast Guy), “If our kitchens were organized the same way as our factories, offices and clinics, then the refrigerator would be in basement, the toaster would be in the attic and the bread would be stored anywhere there was an open space. We would be making huge batches of toast that spent most of their existence being moved and stored. And we’d see isolated departments that each added a little bit of value and a whole lot of waste, working out of sync, rarely communicating and often displeasing the customer. Just like most business environments.”

So, watching "Toast Kaizen", it’s easy to separate the wastes from the work, and in doing so make the whole job easier, better, faster and cheaper. But what if the process is not self-contained as in a kitchen. What if the process is laid out like most factories and offices? Then those material, information and production flows would be spread out all over into functional areas that would hide most of the waste. In fact, almost none of us see the whole process in our daily work, just the little piece we do ourselves. So now, GBMP offers "Toast VSM", a 2009 sequel to the original - a DVD no Lean Training Library should be without.

Come along on a toast odyssey that mimics the more typical conditions employees encounter when they attempt to value stream. Divided into two half-hour training segments, Part 1 of the lesson examines the current condition (or state) as we follow the toast-making process to understand the material and information flows. Viewers will participate in the observations and the sometimes contentious discussions about what has been observed as GBMP team travels the process upstream to expose system and process problems. You’ll learn how to capture both numeric and anecdotal information on paper, and how to achieve a consensus regarding the key points of the current condition.

Part II details the target condition (state) demonstrating how orders of magnitude improvement can be systematically identified, achieved and measured. Viewers will be introduced to a VSM Action Plan in A3 format that provides a complete analysis, reflection, improvement plan, measures and milestone tracking on a single 11x17 sheet.

Whether your process is pure factory or administrative or service-related, "Toast VSM", offers a realistic, day-in-the-life experience for lean implementers who wish to gain the full benefit of Value Stream Mapping.

1 comment:

  1. A couple of months ago I watched the trailer of this video and decided to do a skit of it instead of actually purchasing the video. Doing the skit, getting volunteers to be the customer & supplier, having corny props and music, actually made the training a lot more enjoyable than setting the team up in front of a video. We trained 400 people this way in four seperate groups. It was a blast. We also bought the video and watched it after our skit. The video was very good. Our skit and self-made training slides made it fit our company a little better. Excellent idea from the GBMP team. Thank you!