A signal for controlling production and inventory on the shop floor.
A kanban is usually a card, container, token or other means to visually signal produce or deliver.


A mistake-proofing device or procedure to prevent a defect during order taking or manufacturing. An example is a lever or light beam along an assembly line that is tripped to prevent components from progressing to the next stage with parts missing.

Standard Work

Standard Work (According to Shingijutsu)

Looking at the operations on manufacturing floor, you see operators picking up materials, putting them down, stacking them or searching for them.
These motions add no value, in other words, they are wasted (MUDA).

To “work” means “to change the shapes of the materials into finished products by adding value to the materials”.

Non-value added motion should be eliminated because it creates MUDA. This can be done by KAIZEN. Eliminate MUDA through doing KAIZEN activities so that only the meaningful or value-added operations are left for operators to perform.

Standard Work is the basis to the synchronization of all the processes as a whole.

Standard Work starts from the separation of “human work” and “machine work”. Then make human work into “full man” work.

It is the practice to make good quality products safely at the lowest possible cost. Standard Work, therefore, is the starting point of KAIZEN. Where there is no Standard Work, there is no KAIZEN. Standard Work changes according to KAIZEN or requirement changes. It needs to be updated all the time.

How to Create Standard Work

Standard Work is the procedure to make good quality products safely at the lowest cost.
The following 3 elements need to be determined to create Standard Work.

•Takt Time(Target time to complete a piece or unit)
•Work Procedure (Operation Sequence)
•Standard Work-In-Process(Minimum stock in hand to repeat operation)

Standard Work prevents overproduction and wasted motions so that good quality products can be produced safely at the lowest possible cost.

Mizu sumashi

Mizu sumashi means Literally: whirligig (an object that spins or whirls) however it usually is translated as “water strider'” (or “water skeeter”) which than again should be translated as AMENBO in Japanese. To make it worse: It seams that mr. Ohno once has made a minor mistake (Yes even he was not perfect…) and translated it as a water spider (a name you can find in many companies now…). The purist (like at Boeing) would call it a ‘water strider’.

However, a long story short;

Logistic function in a pull system; the person who delivers materials to the line and picks up its completed products.

You would probably expect it to be a low-qualified job… a real water strider is a very skilled person who has a broad knowledge about the process he/she is ‘feeding’.
Since in a pull system there is only very limited material at the line, the water strider immediately stops skeeting when there is a problem somewhere; this person then has the task to help get things going again, a kind of first aid so to say.


Kamishibai (紙芝居), literally “paper drama”, is a form of storytelling that originated in Japanese Buddhist temples in the 12th century.

Monks used e-maki (picture scrolls) to convey stories with moral lessons. It had a its revival in the 1920s through the 1950s.
The gaito kamishibaiya, or kamishibai storyteller, rode from village to village on a bicycle equipped with a small stage.
Once an audience assembled, the storyteller told several stories using a set of illustrated boards, inserted into the stage and withdrawn one by one as the story was told. The stories were often serials and new episodes were told on each visit to the village.

As part of the Toyota Production System, a kamishibai board is used as a visual control for performing audits within a manufacturing process. A series of cards are placed on a board and selected at random or according to schedule by supervisors and managers of the area. This ensures safety and cleanliness of the workplace is maintained and that quality checks are being performed.


Mitsu-Zo: brewing liquor illegally (in th US referred to as “moon shining”)

In the early days of the Toyota Production System, those who used their own ingenuity and understanding of a process to make their own equipment without going to catalogs and paying for bells and whistles had to “prove” their design before letting their managers know about it. The clandestine nature of the activity reminded them of brewing liquor illegally: “MITSU-ZO.” When Kaizen was brought to the US in the late 80’s a translation was sought: Moonshine. Here are some articles about US companies and the Moonshine method.

(Thanks to Fred Harriman)


Sensei (先生): a Master that is willing to teach.

Literally: Sen: Further, Forward Sei: Life;
‘The one that brings others forward in life’

Although it is tempting to translate ‘Sensei’ as Teacher, there is a subtle difference due to the differences in the Western and Japanese teaching systems.

It is the Sensei’s greatest honor when his pupil becomes better than the master. To understand this difference please read about the ShuHaRi learning system



Stack chart, showing work balance among operators. It is used to make sure work is evenly distributed and each operator has a full day’s work.


Example of a yamazumi chart



Strong spirit.
Netsui is required to implement deep change through Kaizen as the organization will naturally resist.
To be successful it requires a strong spirit, and a clear and strong vision.