Title: Senior vice president
Company: Nissan Motor Manufacturing Corp. U.S.A.
Thesis: The easy productivity gains are over. Now the focus is areas like material handling, inspection, logistics and any salaried functions that could be better performed by an outside contractor.
Quote: 'The days of finding low-hanging fruit - those easy productivity gains - are over.'
Title: Vice president, quality
Company: Ford Motor Co.
Thesis: Automaker is counting on its Customer-Driven Six Sigma quality initiative to drive down waste, defects and costs.
Quote: 'An example of the kind of Six Sigma projects they will handle is the door fit on one of our vehicles. Its buyers told us that water leaks, wind noise, and other door fit issues are among the concerns that bother them the most.'
Title: Executive vice president, manufacturing
Thesis: The company evolved from a reactive to a proactive operation after establishing operating principles.
Quote: 'The principles have taken us from the insanity of a highly reactive environment and put us on the road to being a much more proactive, process-driven operation.'
Company: Textron Automotive Co.
Thesis: Lean manufacturing must be a continuous process and be driven further down the supply chain. Help must be offered to the smaller suppliers.
Quote: 'The continuous process of leaning out the extended enterprise is really what we're all after.'
Title: Author; founder and president
Company: The Lean Enterprise Institute
Thesis: Automakers did become a leaner bunch during the 1990s, but the war has not yet been won.
Quote: 'There's nothing that makes me more depressed than to walk into a guy's plant who wants me to sign the complete Womack on the shelf, and the plant is absolutely crap.'