I recently watched the movie ‘The Founder’, and i was watching the MacDonalds brothers talking about how they started. To me, the way they worked everything out looked like Lean to me. They way they worked out the restaurant layout, on a tennis court, with chalk outlines then get the people in to simulate their work. Try it out, when it doesn’t work, scrub out the lines, re-draw. The way the brothers automated, also how they failed but kept trying different things. They also didn’t hide anything. Eye showed everything off. Not only to Ray Kroc, but anyone interested. Just like TOyota does.
The whole system looked like lean in the making, if this story is accurate, it meant that the US had lean concepts 30+ years before it was formally introduced by Toyota in the 80’s. The movie was sad in the end, the McDonald brothers lost their legacy. Had there been collaboration instead of confrontation between the McDonald brothers and Ray Kroc, maybe lean might have been incorporated into the culture a decade or so earlier.
I guess we’ll never know.