lean enterprise

A student’s perspective of studying the MSc Lean Enterprise Programme – Tomato Wisdom!

18 May 2018

“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”

The renowned tomato quote from Miles Kington has won out as the best of the reflections from week two of the 2018 MSc Lean Enterprise. Some rugby union fans remember this quote being used by Brian O’Driscoll after he got a press conference question about the former England captain, Martin Johnson. He later said it didn’t matter what the question was he was challenged by his team mates to include it after it was their “quote of the day” on their daily itinerary. However, for us this week the quote was meaningful.

The theme for the second module of University of Buckingham’s 2018 MSc Lean Enterprise was “Quality and Systems Thinking”.

It was a mixture of theory and practical. We were based at a student’s manufacturing facility and rounded off the week with a feedback presentation to the local management team.

lean enterprise

With “big data”, data lakes, AI and Industry 4.0 growing in everyone’s business vocabulary the meaning behind the quote is becoming ever more important. Will AI ever gain wisdom? This last week we have discussed these issues and their implications. The combination of connectedness and understand is incredibly important. Russell Ackoff’s stepped flow from data to information to knowledge to understanding to wisdom has been at the heart of our week.

As we explained in the first “Notes from a small lean island” post each morning the students take turns to facilitate a discussion on reflections from the previous day’s discussions, content and experience. Some are serious and some are humorous very much like Bill’s Bryson’s original book. In addition to the tomato wisdom quote below are some reflections from the second chapter (week)of our book!

• Patrick knew the special causes because he was “there” on the bus!
• “All waste results from variation”
• Managers acting when they shouldn’t and doing nothing when they should!
• Bullet holes on returning bombers – looking for what is not there is key
• PDSA not just PDCA
• Deming’s 5 deadly diseases
• Improve system over people
• Voice of the process and voice of the customer
• Emergent properties of a system
• Reductionism and analysis
• Positively change the system and culture change is a consequence
• Three types of change; coercive, rational and normative
• You can’t answer the “why” (understanding) with just data
• Analytical thinking cannot explain a complex problem
• For normative interventions to be sustainable they need to be at the right level
• Optimising the parts can destroy a system
• Go/see/learn to turn knowledge into understanding
• Absolution, resolution, solution and dissolution
• Special cause reaction to common cause events
• A system can result in rejects and still be in control
• Errors and defects are not the same thing
• Regression to the mean can fool us
• Uncover contradictions by uncovering loopholes or
• Thinking underpins systems which drive
• Thinking needs to be challenged to evoke
system change
• Simplify, mistake proof, set
• Why is 5S a foundation?
• Signal and noise – a man and his dog

Remember, it is intended that this is a refresher for the alumni too!