[Total: 0    Average: 0/5]

Taylorism, a production management methodology from the beginning of the twentieth Century !

Kaizen, a Japanese method created in the years 50!

The 6 Sigma, a statistical tool developed in the years 80!

The Lean, invented by Americans in the years 90!


So many confirmed statements on which we will not return. But in reality we are heirs of men and women who throughout our history have wanted to transgress short minds and easy thoughts to optimize the creation of value.

Improving quality and performance is actually a human way of thinking enshrined in the life of the company. History shows that at all times we wanted to make our tool and working methods more efficient.

The roll out of history

The first “optimization” Traces of production, we find them about 400 years before J-C. Xenophon, an Athenian general and philosopher then leaned on the production to the chain to improve the manufacture of Cothurnes (shoes for the Greek Army). He advocated dividing the work so that each worker carried out only one operation, and always the same.

400 years JC

Xenophon, a Greek philosopher and military leader, is the first to correlate the idea of specialization with the efficiency of production. He expresses it in his book Cyropaedia:

« Everything that comes from the King’s table is of a superior flavor. As the other trades are practiced with more art in the big cities, the king’s food is much better prepared. In small towns, they are the same craftsmen who make the bed, the door, the plough, the table and who even build the house, very happy, if with so many trades, they find enough customers to feed them. But it is impossible for a man who makes several trades to do them all perfectly. In big cities, on the contrary, many people need every kind of thing. A single craft is enough to feed a craftsman, and sometimes even a part of this trade: Such man shoes men, another, women; It even happens that they find to live, one to sew the leather, the other to cut it, another by only assembling. It follows that the person who specializes in a very small part of a trade is required to excel »

In the 12th century

Built in 1104, the arsenal of Venice is undoubtedly the first truly ” industrial ” site. Dedicated to the manufacture of warships of the Venetian army, they had adopted a standardized method in flow to build and assemble hundreds of galleys in chains every year:

The hull of the galley passed along the Arsenal workstation to other that each item could be added1.

Quality controls were put in place throughout the process.

Removal of bottlenecks by setting up a large upstream and downstream stock..

Standardization of equipment: pulleys, ropes, ammunition…


The methods used by this Arsenal were so much ahead of their time that King Henry III of France was invited to watch the construction in flux of a galley from start to finish, all in less than an hour.


Official of the state in charge of the constructions then Director of the School of bridges and pavements, Jean-Rodolphe Perront is the first to take the concept of time of operations in the calculation of costs of cost in his study on the manufacture of Laigle pins2.


A French general Jean-Baptiste de Gribeauval3 had seized the interest of standardized constructions and interchangeable modules to carry out repairs on the battlefields. From 1765, under Louis XV, General Jean-Baptiste de Gribeauval developed the ” Gribeauval system “, which allowed him to be considered the father of quality control :

Identification of the margins of tolerance to ensure that the ammunition is working properly: the challenge was to allow the military to “fail” to use the pieces of another musket and thus continue to fight.

Reduction of the number of calibers from 5 to 3 for field artillery to simplify transport and storage.


Eli Whitney, then inventor of a gin to separate the seed from the cotton from his fiber, received an order of 10 000 muskets sold $13.40 Part. In the face of such a request, Whitney focused on the problem of mass production and developed the principle of interchangeable parts4. This was based on the normalization of the parts, which allowed them to be recovered for several types of muskets and thus facilitate the production.


Thomas Blanchard, from the Springfield Arsenal in the United States, has developed production machines that allow the manufacture of parts with the most elaborate shapes, such as rifle ammunition5. The machines could make a complete instrument without human work and in continuous flow since the parts moved only from machine to machine.

1890 at 1915

Mr. F.W. Taylor sets up the scientific organization of Labour (OST). Starting from the observation that workers could work faster and make an ” honest day of work “, he convinces himself that the production system must be changed6. He was the first to set up thestudy of the Times. In 1911, he published his first book devoted to his production system “the scientific direction of enterprises“. He also created the first performance pay system.


Henry Ford leaned on the work of F.W. Taylor to set up the mass production, in flux and standardized, of the Ford T7. It will be in 1926 that Henry Ford presented the principles of mass production in an article in Encyclopedia Britannica. Some quotes from Henry FORD:

on the notion of standard: " people can choose any color for the Ford T, as long as it's black. "
on customer Orientation: " It is not the employer who pays the wages, but the customer "
on the importance of man in the company: " the two most important things do not appear on the balance sheet of the company: its reputation and its men. "


Sakichi Toyoda invents the principle of Jidoka In looms. The Toyoda Automatic Loom type-G machine stops automatically when it detects the breakage of the wire and thus prevents the machine from continuing to produce with defects.


Elton Mayo, an Australian then professor of philosophy at Harvard, and his team of psychologist, wished to complete Taylor ‘s work that the working conditions (material, technical…) of the work influence the Productivity: acceptable wages, pleasant environment, well-studied timetables, security at the workstation, job security… From his experiments, he deduces the importance of the psychological climate on the behavior of the workers. He’s opening the human Relations movement.

Late 1930s

The German aerospace industry was a pioneer in setting up the Takt time as a way of synchronising the assembly line in which aircraft fuselages came out of the process in a specific time: The Takt time8 .

Second World War

The United States, through the training within Industry 9Deployment Program, has formalized a whole set of methodologies to improve productivity. These practical trainings were based on the pedagogy of C.R. Allen who, through his book ” The instructor, man and work “, had brought the 4 principles of training: Showexplainenforcecheck.


Toyota, in a war-torn country with no significant natural resource, combined the idea of Takt Time with Ford ‘s continuous flow concept and Taylor‘s standardization. In addition, it adds a dimension of flexibility to produce better quality products with greater variety, minimum stocks and very tight deadlines. He developed the basics of the Toyota Production System.


It is following the study IMVP (“International Motor Vehicle program“, a research program of MIT), validating the superiority of the management mode of Toyota (the TPS), that researchers10 create in 1990 the term Lean ( Literally translated as ” thin “).


Professor Yamashina develops the WCM in the US auto sector.


Dr. Eli GOLDRATT develops the theory of constraints emphasizing the problem of the bottleneck.


End of the years 1990, beginning 2000, the computer world that explodes develops on the basis of Lean, Agilemethods.

LEAN VS Taylorism

Still now, people of experiences or young school outings or not yet consider that Lean is taylorism under another name. To be sure, a marketing team has worked the product “Taylor” to put it under a different name, but it will better sell.

However, they are fundamentally different:

  • Lean is a permanent challenge, a real reflection on oneself, and teamwork.
  • Taylorism is centered on the excessive standardization imposed by “those who know” to “those who do“.

Thus, even if one of the tools of Lean is standardization, the solutions identified are not the same and not accepted in the same way. So no, Lean is not “forcing people to do it all the time”.

In video

Some celebrities

  • Taiichi Ohno: Probably the father of the just in time, deployed these methods within Toyota. He acknowledged that the Ford system had contradictions and shortcomings, particularly with respect to employees. Ford’s harsh attitudes and degrading employment structures were impracticable in the post-war period in Japan.
  • Shigeo Shingo: The father of SMED and Poka Yoké, was a major player in the evolution of methods. He worked at Taipei Railway Company or Mitsubishi. Shingo, at the suggestion of Ohno, also worked on the problem of configuration and change of series. By reducing the problems associated with the change of series and configuration, it allows to produce in small batches while keeping the principles of the continuous flow. It introduces a flexibility that Henry Ford didn’t think he needed.
  • William Edwards Deming: American mathematician and statistician, during the Second World War, helped American weapons companies to produce more. But his gratitude will come from this accompanying work with the Japanese as a result of the war. Through mathematical work, he was able to provide solutions in management systems and developed the principle of SDCA/PDCA.
  • Walter Andrew Shewhart: in the same way as Deming, Shewhart is an American statistician. He worked in particular for Bell Telephone on statistical quality control. He is known to have created the control charts.
  • Kaoru Ishikawa : A Japanese chemical engineer, he is the father of the causes effects matrix of the same name. He was a major player in the management and improvement of quality.
  • Armand Vallin Feigenbaum: American Statistician, he developed the concept of the QCT (Total Quality Control). This concept emphasizes quality management not only at the level of manufacturing but also at the level of all processes.
  • Joseph Moser Juran: Romanian electrical engineer emigrated to the United States. Working in particular for Bell Telephone, he was one of the fathers of quality management. He is recognized for broadcasting the law of Pareto and have created the ABC tool.
  • Genichi Taguchi: A Japanese statistician engineer, he developed the methodology of the Design Of Experiments, democratized it to make it usable by all and developed the principles of robust design.
  • Bob Galvin: General manager of Motorola in the years 80, he was on the initiative of the successful implementation of 6 Sigma methods.

And tomorrow…

It is obvious that in the coming Times new methods and currents of thought can germinate and take Shape always for the same purpose: to do better than before. Lean is probably just a step towards the pursuit of excellence.


1-G. Fliedner (2012)-Leading and managing the Lean management process

2-J. L. Peaucelle (1999)-Division of Labour: Adam Smith and the encyclopaedists observing the manufacture of the pins of Normandy

3-A. C. Manucy (1985)-Artillery through the ages

4-J. Hughes (1986)-The vital few: the entrepreneur and American Economic progress

5-R. Boyd Gordon, P. M. Malone (1994)-The texture of industry: an archaeological view of the industrialization of North America

6-R. Kanigel (2005)-The One best way: Frederick Winslow Taylor and the Enigma of efficiency

7-S. Olson (1997)-Young Henry Ford: A picture history of the first forty years

8-S. K. Land, D. B. Smith, J. V. Walz (2008)-Practical support for Lean Six Sigma software Process definition

9-D. Dinero (2005)-Training within industry: the foundation of Lean

10-J. P. Womack, D. T. Jones, D. Roos (1990)-The machine that change the world

W. Mass, A. Robertson (1996)-From Textiles to automobiles: Mechanical and Organizational Innovation in the Toyoda Enterprises, 1895-1933

Share This