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By Drive, Inc. on Saturday 14 January 2012.

I am often asked, “What is the most important principle of Lean manufacturing?” By far, the most important principle is stopping to fix problems. It is perhaps also one of the most misunderstood principles, and not an easy one to implement, because it involves changing Management behavior. The big misconception is that “stopping to fix problems” means “stopping production to fix problems.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Toyota knows better than anyone that you had better satisfy the customer… and the customer doesn’t want a delay in receiving their goods or services from us while we are fixing our problems. Rather, the first step of robust problem response is the restoration of flow. Any manufacturer that can’t figure that out will not be in business very long. Instead, “stopping to fix problems” means “stopping Management to fix problems.” Management usually thinks they are too busy to fix problems. Why Management? Management sets direction, Management controls resources, Management can remove barriers, and Management has the responsibility to grow competent problem-solvers.ding of the problems.

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