We’ve reached the last day of the May 2018 EDM, and it was the perfect opportunity to round out our learning with stops at 2 unique operating environments.

The first visit was to a modular housing manufacturer consisting of 120 people who construct the equivalent of 3 houses each day, all under one facility roof. We enjoyed seeing their balance of automation and manual processes as well as the integration between different fabrication functions. Especially impressive was the same-day assembly capability when the customer is ready for their house to be “constructed”. This capability was built through their “modular” design which allow 12 individual, pre-constructed units to come together to form the entire house.

In the afternoon, we particularly enjoyed an experience within a traditional restaurant location in Tokyo. We were treated to a presentation from a familiar executive who loves to share his insight on the subtleties and challenges of the Japanese restaurant environment. Their focus on people development was made evident through the advanced training processes of chefs, utilization of virtual reality to simulate ergonomics and optimal layout, and the consideration of factors such as seasonal fluctuation and the dependence on mainly part-time versus full-time labor. The visit was made even more impressive by the fantastic meal and service.

Later in the day, the Executive Development Mission ended with a round of thank-you’s and a certificate presentation. There were countless highlights from the experience, but here are a few of the learning points which were frequently reiterated –

  • “Think continuously with a kaizen mindset.”
    • Improvement is a constant effort and things are always flexible.
  • “It doesn’t take a large budget to make kaizens.”
    • Simple improvements using basic, inexpensive materials are the best initial way to challenge your creativity.
  • “Develop supplier relationships.”
    • We visited a few suppliers during the mission and were constantly reminded of the interaction and development that takes place.
  • “Engage people through problem-solving activity.”
    • The Quality Circle activity throughout the week showed us the level of engagement that is possible.

We appreciate you following our journey this week, and we hope to see you on the next mission in October!