There is so much one can learn from the lecturers that visit our campus, and we were fortunate to have Mr. Sam Obara lecture us on ‘Lean Culture and Leadership Awareness’ (LCLA) on February 26, 2014. Touching upon the subject of TPS, Mr. Obara said that, having witnessed Toyota’s success, quite many companies tried to emulate the TPS process, but very few were successful. It is not the tools that define success, but the way they are used, said Mr. Obara. Mr. Sam Obara brings with him, years of experience, and is a guest lecturer on lean for post-graduate classes at Stanford University and San Diego State University, has also spoken at conferences sponsored by the American Production and Inventory Control Society, the Association for Productivity and Quality (APQ), and the American Society for Quality (ASQ). Mr. Obara has been successful in implementing TPS in Toyota’s production units in Japan, Brazil, Venezuela and the United States.
With close to 30 years of experience in implementing lean culture, Mr. Sam Obara has helped over 350 companies streamline their production processes to cut waste occurring from inventory, motion, over-production, transport, over-processing, waiting and correction. With the launch of TPS, there began a process of innovations that finally ended with lean manufacture. According to Mr. Obara, the important elements that constitute lean include, purpose, structure, and leadership. Each of these elements is dependent on one another and is equally important. If an organization is able to identify its purpose, formulate principles and policies to target the purpose, and is led by example by a leader, that organization can achieve lean. He also touched upon the history, the need, the strategies and the modalities in lean culture. The concept of Lean assumed significance after Toyota successfully launched their Toyota Production System (TPS) way back in the mid-1950s, he said. This was followed y the introduction of Just-in-Time and TQM. The next phase saw the emergence of Six Sigma, and finally, we have lean manufacturing. There were a lot of things that an organization needed to keep in mind if they wanted to develop a successful LCLA. Lean addresses the needs of customers, and for this, there has to be a continuous improvement mechanism in place. It is value driven.
According to Mr. Obara, System Engineering can be profitable if it is practiced in a systematic manner, and the best way to do this would be by implementing lean. As a Project Manager, I too face many challenges associated with inefficiencies, which results in embarrassment and frustration. However, after learning about LCLA from Mr. Sam Obara, I feel confident that I can overcome these issues by implementing lean, so that we too can achieve ‘the asymptote of excellence.’
I found Mr. Sam Obara’s approach extremely effective. In addition to making the lecture interesting, his way of presenting the subject was commendable.