Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thank you Henry, Eiji and Taiichi for sharing

We all owe Henry Ford, Eiji Toyoda and Taiichi Ohno a great deal of thanks for sharing their thoughts and ideas with us. Henry Ford was one of the first to truly develop an effective production line. He also wrote about his ideas and was open to others visiting Ford factories. In fact Eiji Toyoda visited Ford's River Rouge Plant at Dearborn, Michigan in the 50s. Toyota have also been open about sharing their knowledge. Firstly training their suppliers but also working with other companies that want to make things better.
My first exposure to Lean came at Bombardier, Derby, England. Toyota had opened their first UK factory nearby and were working with other local companies that wanted to learn about Lean and improving productivity, Bombardier were one of them.

 The reason I'm writing this is a question; how would the world look and work if none of these men had shared? What would manufacturing, service and health care look like if the ideas of 5S, Poke Yoke, Kanban, Takt time, SMED... had all been patented as business processes?  Ideas that could only be used if a significant fee was paid to the patent holder.
Google has just paid $12.5 Billion for ideas. (Globe and Mail)
The Web search giant, which earlier this summer lost a high-stakes battle for Nortel’s 6,000-patent portfolio to rivals Apple, Microsoft and Research In Motion, will purchase handset manufacturer Motorola Mobility for $12.5-billion (U.S.). The acquisition target’s primary asset? An arsenal of 17,000 existing and 7,500 pending patents.
That is a lot of money to pay for ideas. The fact that Toyota and co have all shared their ideas so freely has to be celebrated.  
A second question; if those ideas had been patented how much would they be worth?

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