Scanlon and Lean


The Japanese took Joe Scanlon's ideas concerning worker involvement... and the ideas of W. Edwards Deming... now people are adopting Japanese management techniques without knowing that many of them were Scanlon's ideas.     Warren Bennis


The Toyota Production System (TPS) is a leadership philosophy and production system that is widely copied but rarely understood.  Toyota has been very generous in sharing its methods with others, and there are countless books and articles on the system yet many who study it end up focusing on the tools of the system, and miss the underlying principles and philosophy that make it work.

Americans grab tools.  At Toyota, they concentrate on a philosophy.  A tool is something you pick up . . . and then put down. A philosophy is a way of life, an on-going thing. 

The Japanese studied Scanlon and adopted much of the philosophy.  To learn about the Japanese and Scanlon click here.

Six Sigma and Scanlon

Six Sigma, is a quality methodology developed by Motorola in the late 1980s, (while they were a member of the Scanlon Leadership Network).  Six Sigma has become synonymous with quality improvement and today it is often linked with Lean initiatives. 

Six Sigma, as implemented by Motorola successfully from 1987–1992 resulted in cumulative savings for Motorola of more than $2 billion. 

Both Lean and Six Sigma are meant to be a philosophy and a set of tools designed to empower workers, reduce waste, and improve quality.  Unfortunately today lean and six sigma are imposed on people by consultants or "black belts" and the philosophy is missing.  Workers aren't empowered to solve problems.  They often don't understand the tools.  Leadership is missing and the Lean Six-Sigma effort is not sustained.

Why Scanlon and Lean

Scanlon creates a culture where everyone is on the same team pulling in the same direction.  There is no resistance to lean tools.  The Identity Principle helps everyone understand "the right job."  Participation and Equity make sure that lean is eveyone's responsibility and that gains (or sacrifices) will be shared fairly.


I have been a student of lean for a long time-before the term was even coined.  I led a mission to Japan. Toyota University was built on the model of General Motors Institute and we had a long relationship with them.  I was active in helping to bring the lessons of the GM/Toyota joint venture to Michigan.  I helped develop the Lean Sim Machine that has taught thousands of people experientially what Lean is all about.  I also helped to develop the Scanlon Leadership Network's Hoshin Quick Start Program.  The tools are wonderful but they are not the heart of lean.  People working together to reduce waste are the heart of lean.  Paul Davis


Scanlon/Lean Tools for Sale

Hoshin Quick Start

 hoshin sm

Hoshin Quick Start is a training program and set of Excel Templates that can help you install a successful Hoshin program and create five alignments.  Stay tuned.  It will be added as a download in the future.

The Lean Sim Machine

The Lean Sim Machine was used to trained thousands experientally on lean concepts.  General Motors and the UAW used the Lean Sim in their most modern plants to introduce lean in a hands on fun interactive excercise. Unfortunately the Simulation is no longer available for sale.


paint lineheat treat

Scanlon/Lean Resources to Download

Scanlon Creates a Foundation for Lean by Karen Wilhelm--Target Magazine

Leading in an Age of Lean by Dwane Baumgardner-a presentation to the Scanlon Leadership Network

The Leadership Roadmap Beliefs by Dwane Baumgardner

Sustaining Strategy (Hoshin Kanri)