Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma Definitions

Glossary terms, history, people and definitions about Lean and Six Sigma

Hitoshi Yamada

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Hitoshi Yamada is one of the few people with direct authority on Taiichi Ohno. After receiving mentoring from Ohno while he was still at Toyota, and later in the 1980’s after Ohno had retired from Toyota, Yamada helped transform Canon using the “one person” or “single-stall” production system as a process improvement consultant. He also worked with NEC and Sony.

Before Ohno passed away, he personally certified Yamada to carry on his legacy.

Yamada took on the challenges to:

  • Adapt Ohno’s 7 wastes to work in a wide variety of industries outside of manufacturing
  • Carry out the philosophy of “Respect to People”
  • Keep evolving TPS on Ohno’s behalf.

He later realized that 5 of the 7 wastes were actually all wasteful for the same reason, which he called Stagnation.

The Yamada method condenses down Ohno’s original 7 wastes into 3 wastes. He did this because it allowed the employee to more quickly identify the issue and solve it, rather then worry about calling it the correct type of waste.

1) Stagnation

  • Overproduction
  • Processing (overprocessing)
  • Inventory
  • Waiting
  • Defects

2) Transportation

3)  Motion

In May of 1990, Yamada completed work on a comprehensive TPS manual, called “Toyota Production System and Job Improvement Manual in Practice.” The book was approved by Ohno (see letter below) before his death later that year.

Within his TPS manual, Yamada also outlined a four-step process to change people’s mindset: Personal Kaizen, Flow Kaizen, Process Kaizen, and Machine Kaizen.






Hitoshi Yamada at Sanyo Electric

Sensei Hitoshi Yamada, carrying on the philosophy of Taiichi Ohno and perfecting the Toyota Production System

Hitoshi Yamada – Karakuri Kaizen (Development of Simplified Machines)


lean six sigma certification and training

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