When we began our Lean Journey at Boeing, we reached out to Iwata. We wanted to learn Lean techniques from the original source.
It was Nakao who first suggested the name “Wash Your Hands,” a JBA event where Lean students observe and participate in an RPIW on the factory floor. I told sensei Nakao that I was partnering with Genie Industries and would be starting kaizen events at Genie, requiring my clients to attend as part of their certification. He said, “Black-san, you should call it ‘wash your hands’ training because Toyota engineers doing kaizen washed their hands daily.” The implication, of course, is that their hands were getting dirty in the gemba.
Here’s how Gissing described the culture at Boeing before Lean:
“‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’” was an underlying theme. We had gone through market cycles, but always came out of them bruised but not hurt. The “method of choice” for contending with the cycle was massive layoffs. The Boeing psyche when a consultant suggested that we could improve our operations was skepticism. Our retort was always ‘we are different’—simply put, we were arrogant.”