Husaria wingLevinson Productivity Systems, P.C.
William A. Levinson, P.E.  Principal
TheBoss at
Lean Enterprise
Six Sigma
Stochos products
ISO 9000
The Man Factory
3rd Party Resources
This Page
Lean Enterprise

What is a lean enterprise?

What is friction?

Who invented lean manufacturing?

Lean bumper stickers, coffee mugs, and more

Other pages
Single-minute exchange of die

Kanban Production Control and some history

The Theory of Constraints (TOC) and Synchronous Flow Manufacturing.
5S-CANDO and its American origins

Motion Efficiency

Poka-Yoke or error-proofing. Self-check systems and snap gages.

Excerpts from Henry Ford's My Life and Work
Labor relations and lean manufacturing
(SMED) (includes an animation) (1922)!

Lean Manufacturing and Lean Enterprise

NEW (August 2012) Levinson, Lean Management System LMS:2012: A Framework for Continual Lean Improvement  (CRC Press/ Taylor & Francis)
Includes a continuous improvement loop for identifying waste (muda) and an unofficial lean manufacturing standard that piggybacks onto an ISO 9001-compliant system. Includes narrative audit questions, and examples of waste elimination.

Levinson Productivity Systems offers training and consulting services in lean manufacturing.
Front-line employees can be taught the basic principles in a couple of hours, although unwavering management commitment is necessary if it is to work. A system needs to be in place to assure that employee-initiated projects are carried through to completion; corrective and preventive action tracking systems (such as those used to satisfy the ISO 9000 requirement) can be adapted for this purpose. The organizational behavior "soft sciences" aspects of change management also are important, and Levinson Productivity Systems can offer guidance in this area as well.

This Page
Other pages

Lean Enterprise Products
Levinson, 2002. Henry Ford's Lean Vision, (order from Productivity Press Stock #: HFLV Price: $ 39.95)
          Corrected index (3 December 2002)

Levinson and Rerick, 2002. Lean Enterprise: A Synergistic Approach (order from ASQ Quality Press)

Levinson, Statistical Process Control for Real-World Applications (Taylor & Francis)

NEW (August 2012) Levinson, Lean Management System LMS:2012: A Framework for Continual Lean Improvement  (CRC Press/ Taylor & Francis)
PowerPoint Training Packages
  • Available on CD-ROM or direct download. Designed as one-day workshop presentations.
  • LICENSING: You may use one copy (electronic or overhead transparency; you can have one of each as long as both are not in use simultaneously) to give presentations for in-house training or for a fee. You may also make unlimited hard copies of the PowerPoint notes pages (which contain additional information and references to go with the presentation) for distribution to your audiences as handouts.
  • No changes may be made in the slides that come with the presentation. You may insert your own slides into the presentation (e.g. to use examples from your own factory, a highly-recommended practice) as long as you identify them as your own work and not that of Levinson Productivity Systems.
  • When ordering, please indicate if you need an older version of PowerPoint, and also if the item is to be shipped to a Pennsylvania address. We must collect and pay sales tax on shipments to PA addresses.)
FREE: Lean Enterprise: Made in the USA. (PowerPoint for Windows XP, ~2.3 megabytes)
  • Presentation for Boeing lean manufacturing conference (April 8-9) and APICS meeting (May 2003). It shows the American origins of the lean enterprise, including contributions by Benjamin Franklin, Frank Gilbreth, Frederick Winslow Taylor, and Henry Ford. Includes three animations that should work if the presentation is given from a laptop PC, and backup slides for presentation from overhead transparencies.
  • Permission is given to download and use Lean Enterprise: Made in the USA, provided that no changes are made in it and that it is not shown for a fee (other than a usual dinner meeting fee for, as an example, a monthly ASQ, APICS, or SME meeting). You may make and distribute unlimited copies of the notes pages as long as no changes are made.
  • Animation examples

Free: Introduction to Lean Manufacturing (PowerPoint for Windows XP, 2.8 megabytes). Includes animations and a discussion of Green Manufacturing
Lean Enterprise: A Comprehensive Overview.
249 PowerPoint slides including outline/contents, four animations (3 motion efficiency, 1 poka-yoke), and backup slides for the animations if the presentation is given from transparencies. $95.00 (includes shipping and handling)
Download package description as a Word document
  1. Why Lean Enterprise
  2. Lean Fundamentals
  3. Lean Techniques
  4. Lean Production Control
  5. Supply Chain Management
  6. Lean and ISO 14000
  7. Change Management
Design of Experiments: Applications and Basic Principles
184 PowerPoint slides (including Notes pages for handouts) $85.00.
Objectives: Overview course, no in-depth mathematical knowledge is required. Includes some Minitab examples.
(1) Know what kind of experiments are available and how they are used.
(2) Know how to interpret results (hypothesis testing, outlier analysis)
  1. Introduction: what is Design of Experiments?
  2. Planning the experiement: randomization, blocking, and replication
  3. Interpreting test statistics (including hypothesis testing)
  4. Types of experiments. One-way Analysis of Variance
  5. Two-factor experiments and interactions
  6. Multi-factor experiements. Factorial designs.
  7. Linear regression
  8. Nonparametric methods
The Theory of Constraints and Synchronous Flow Manufacturing
186 PowerPoint slides (including Notes pages for handouts) $95.00
  1. The Theory of Constraints
  2. Performance Measurements (throughput, inventory, and operating costs). Deficiencies of traditional cost models. Concept of marginal costs, revenues, and profits
  3. Production Control: synchronous flow manufacturing (SFM). SFM supports lean manufacturing by reducing cycle times and keeping inventory levels low.
  4. Elevating the Constraint: lean manufacturing techniques for constraint elevation. Introduction to the use of linear programming (simplex method) to identify constraints and slack capacity, and to optimize product mixtures for maximum profit.
  5. Variation Reduction (a unique element of this course).  Henry Ford succeeded in running a balanced factory at close to 100 percent.
  6. Conclusion: TOC and Your Factory
(1) Make checks payable to Levinson Productivity Systems, P.C. Mail to 6 Lexington Court, Wilkes-Barre PA 18702. Inquiries, TheBoss "at" or 570-824-1986
(2) Order via PayPal E-commerce using the above buttons AND E-mail me (TheBoss "at" Be sure to include your shipping address!

Disk guarantee:
Files are burned onto a CD using Roxio software. Experience is that these disks work in most computers. If it does not work in yours, your money will be refunded if a workable copy cannot be provided. The Theory of Constraints presentation is also small enough (<3 Mb) to send as an E-mail attachment. NEW (July 2004) Due to a customer request, the files can now be obtained by direct download. If you have a high-speed connection, I can provide a link upon receipt of payment that will allow you to download the presentation you have purchased. (NOTE: This is a manual process and PayPal does NOT provide you with a link from which you can do the download. I have to give you a link to a private directory so you can download the file. Also, please select "Shipping is required (Please enter address below.)" when you order by PayPal.)

To print Notes pages with Powerpoint:

What is a Lean Enterprise? It is very useful to find one word (or its opposite) to define a lean enterprise.


A lean enterprise is one from which friction is absent.

All lean manufacturing and lean enterprise techniques suppress some form of friction, which Masaaki Imai calls muda (waste). Friction consists of all non-value-adding activity.

What is Friction?

An understanding of friction, and all it implies, is the backbone of lean manufacturing and lean enterprise. The concept is so important that it appears in many references.

General Carl von Clausewitz's On War
Friction is "…the force that makes the apparently easy so difficult. … countless minor incidents— the kind you can never really foresee— combine to lower the general level of performance, so that one always falls short of the intended goal."
Henry Ford, Moving Forward (1930)
"It is the little things that are hard to see— the awkward little methods of doing things that have grown up and which no one notices. And since manufacturing is solely a matter of detail, these little things develop, when added together, into very big things."
Dr. Shigeo Shingo
"Unfortunately, real waste lurks in forms that do not look like waste. Only through careful observation and goal orientation can waste be identified. We must always keep in mind that the greatest waste is the waste we don't see."
Tom Peters, Thriving on Chaos (1987)
"The accumulation of little items, each too trivial to trouble the boss with, is a prime cause of miss-the-market delays."
Taiichi Ohno, Toyota Production System (1988)
"In reality, however, such waste [waiting, needless motions] is usually hidden, making it difficult to eliminate. …To implement the Toyota production system in your own business, there must be a total understanding of waste. Unless all sources of waste are detected and crushed, success will always be just a dream."
Halpin, Zero Defects (1966)
"They turned out to be the little things that get under a worker's skin but are never quite important enough to make him come to management for a change"

Each source cites exactly the same thing: seemingly minor annoyances and inefficiencies that combine to lower the organization's level of performance.

  • People don't bother to correct their underlying root causes because they can work around them. If workers keep "working around" the same problem, that is friction no matter how minor it seems.
  • If the waste was obvious, someone would have done something about it. One of Henry Ford's major success secrets was his ability to see waste that most other people would overlook. As an example,
    • One day when Mr. Ford and I were together he spotted some rust in the slag that ballasted the right of way of the D. T. & I [railroad]. This slag had been dumped there from our own furnaces.

    • "You know," Mr. Ford said to me, "there's iron in that slag. You make the crane crews who put it out there sort it over, and take it back to the plant" (Harry Bennett, 1951. Ford: We Never Called Him Henry, pp. 32-33).
  • Definition for frontline workers: "If it's frustrating, a chronic annoyance, or a chronic inefficiency, it's friction" (Levinson and Tumbelty, SPC Essentials and Productivity Improvement: A Manufacturing Approach.)
Who Invented Lean Manufacturing?
Or, "Who do you think taught Japan how to make cars?"
The United States, not Japan, invented lean manufacturing. Change agents can use this information to promote acceptance of lean manufacturing in American workplaces.

I was first introduced to the concepts of just-in-time (JIT) and the Toyota production system in 1980. Subsequently I had the opportunity to witness its actual application at Toyota on one of our numerous Japanese study missions. There I met Mr. Taiichi Ohno, the system's creator. When bombarded with questions from our group on what inspired his thinking, he just laughed and said he learned it all from Henry Ford's book (Ford, 1926, vii).
Norman Bodek, introduction to the Productivity Press reprint of Henry Ford's Today and Tomorrow (1926).
In 1931, I ran across a translation of Taylor's book [Principles of Scientific Management] in a neighborhood bookstore. Thumbing through it, I found a most unusual statement. "Inexpensive goods," it said, "can be produced even when workers are paid high wages." The apparent impossibility of such a proposition aroused my suspicions, and as I continued to leaf through the book, I saw that Taylor claimed the feat was possible if efficiency was raised to a high level.
For me, this argument was utterly novel, so I bought the book and did not sleep until I had read it from cover to cover. At that point I resolved to devote my life to scientific management.
Dr. Shigeo Shingo, 1987. The Sayings of Shigeo Shingo (xv-xvi)

Henry Ford, in fact, systemized lean manufacturing during the early 20th century--- and the Japanese read his books thoroughly and ardently.

Here is a new rendition of an off-color joke that I won't repeat. A man went into a bar and saw a genuine Japanese dragon sitting by the bar. The bartender said, "He's not only a real Japanese dragon, he's a quality and productivity expert. Since dragons are immortal, he actually knew Shigeo Shingo and Taiichi Ohno from the days they were born. He has no sense of humor, though, and I'll give $100 to the first person who can make him laugh." The newcomer whispered something to the dragon, who broke out in uncontrollable laughter.
The next day, the bartender offered $100 to anyone who could make the Japanese dragon cry. The same man took him aside and showed him something, and the dragon was soon blubbering and weeping.
The bartender asked, "How did you get him to laugh and then to cry?"
The man answered, "I got him to laugh by telling him that the United States introduced kaizen, poka-yoke, muda (waste) reduction, 5S-CANDO, and just-in-time manufacturing."
"How did you get him to cry?"
The man held up a copy of Henry Ford's My Life and Work and said, "Today I proved it to him."

There is no question that the Japanese adopted and perhaps improved lean manufacturing, for which they deserve due credit. Although a smart person or organization is willing to learn from any teacher, we must recognize that American workers will be more receptive to a "Made in the USA" label on lean manufacturing. And now we'll prove that it is indeed an American invention.

Standardization and Continuous Improvement (kaizen)

To standardize a method is to choose out of many methods the best one, and use it. Standardization means nothing unless it means standardizing upward.
What is the best way to do a thing? It is the sum of all the good ways we have discovered up to the present. …Today's best, which superseded yesterday's, will be superseded by tomorrow's best.
…If you think of "standardization" as the best that you know today, but which is to be improved tomorrow, you get somewhere. But if you think of standards as confining, then progress stops.

Henry Ford, Today and Tomorrow (1926)
Ford also calls for best practice deployment, the institution of today's one best way in all relevent aspects of the business
Just-in-Time (JIT) Production

We have found in buying materials that it is not worth while to buy for other than immediate needs. We buy only enough to fit into the plan of production, taking into consideration the state of transportation at the time. If transportation were perfect and an even flow of materials could be assured, it would not be necessary to carry any stock whatsoever. The carloads of raw materials would arrive on schedule and in the planned order and amounts, and go from the railway cars into production. That would save a great deal of money, for it would give a very rapid turnover and thus decrease the amount of money tied up in materials. With bad transportation one has to carry larger stocks.

Henry Ford, My Life and Work (1922)
Design for Manufacture (DFM)

Start with an article that suits and then study to find some way of eliminating the entirely useless parts. This applies to everything— a shoe, a dress, a house, a piece of machinery, a railroad, a steamship, an airplane. As we cut out useless parts and simplify necessary ones, we also cut down the cost of making.
...But also it is to be remembered that all the parts are designed so that they can be most easily made.

Henry Ford, My Life and Work (1922)
Single-Minute Exchange of Die (SMED)

In a certain shop with which we are familiar a piece had to have several holes of different sizes drilled in it, a jig being provided to locate the holes. The drills and the sockets for them were given to the workman in a tote box. The time study of this job revealed several interesting facts. First, after the piece was drilled the machine was stopped, and time was lost while the workman removed the piece from the jig and substituted a new one. This was remedied by providing a second jig in which the piece was placed while another piece was being drilled in the first jig, the finished one being removed after the second jig had been placed in the machine and drilling started.

—Robert Thurston Kent, introduction to Frank Gilbreth's Motion Study (1911)
Cellular Manufacturing

We started assembling a motor car in a single factory. Then as we began to make parts, we began to departmentalize so that each department would do only one thing. As the factory is now organized each department makes only a single part or assembles a part. A department is a little factory in itself. The part comes into it as raw material or as a casting, goes through the sequence of machines and heat treatments, or whatever may be required, and leaves that department finished.

Henry Ford, My Life and Work (1922)
(This arrangement was actually present at the Ford Highland Park factory by 1915, and Henry Gantt mentioned this arrangement's advantages in 1911)
Poka-yoke (error-proofing)

While the welding operation is in progress, fan-shaped plates, operated by cams, cover in turn all operating buttons except the one needed for the next move. It is impossible for the operator to go wrong.

Henry Ford, Moving Forward (1930)
And the related subject of snap gages, or what Shigeo Shingo calls "100 percent inspection"

For the rods the gauge would consist of four pieces of steel, set in a horseshoe-shaped holder, two far enough apart to allow the rods to pass between them if their diameters were not greater than the maximum tolerance specified, and the other two close enough together to keep the rods from passing between them unless the diameters of the rods were below the low limit prescribed (Ford, Moving Forward. He provides other examples as well, e.g. a bushing sorter).

Bumper stickers, coffee mugs, and more; show your pride as a lean manufacturing practitioner.
Products available from Also a wall clock (Theory of Constraints) and lean manufacturing buttons and magnets
Lean Manufacturing Bumper Sticker (10" by 3") $3.99
Lean manufacturing bumper sticker

Coffee Mug: "The Boss" figure created with Poser 5 and Gothic Armor for Don from Valendar (click here for his Renderosity online store).
Quote from Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court: "I could make anything a body wanted... and if there wasn't any quick new-fangled way to make a thing, I could invent one."
Lean Manufacturing/ Yankee Ingenuity Coffee Mug $12.99
Connecticut Yankee coffee mug

visitors since 20 November, 2002