It’s hard to believe that 2018 is the 20th anniversary for the Toast Kaizen video. After two decades, nearly one hundred and fifty thousand copies have been sold – in more than a dozen languages from Spanish to Icelandic. It’s everywhere. Several years ago, while walking down the streets of Dubai, I was stopped by a gentleman who pointed to me and declared, “You’re the Toast Man.” I frequently encounter folks who tell me, “You’re famous,” to which I reply, “No, the “Toast Kaizen” video is famous.” And happily so. What was originally intended as a device to encourage fellow managers to get out of their offices and go see has become a non-threatening way to explain continuous improvement to almost anyone. As I say on the video, “It’s not about the work, it’s about the things that get in the way of the work”.
While it’s gratifying to think that this campy thirty-minute video has found a place in Lean Transformations, it’s also a little concerning when I hear that the “Toast Kaizen” video is the Lean training. What was created as an icebreaker, has occasionally been overblown beyond its purpose. Some time ago, while speaking at the Shingo Conference I asked attendees in the audience how many had seen the Toast video. Nearly every hand went up. But when I asked who had read any of Shigeo Shingo’s books, only a few hands went up. I asked the audience, “Did you know there’s a whole lot more to Lean than the Toast video?”
Yes, a whole lot more than viewing the “Toast Kaizen” video will be needed to really receive the benefits of Lean. Toast is just a small catalyst to kick off the continuous improvement engine. This is why at the 14th Annual Northeast L.E.A.N. conference, while we celebrate Toast’s 20th (tattoos and Toast caps for everyone), we are also homing in on those transformers that have truly become Lean Learning organizations and whose compelling results bear witness to their efforts.
There’s still time to register, but seats are filling fast. Please join me on October 10-11 at the Providence Convention Center. Rhode Island is beautiful this time of year. I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention the two Shingo Institute courses – Discover Excellence and Continuous Improvement – which are being offered in conjunction with the conference. You can learn more about those here.