What is lean?If you ask around, you will hear Lean Manufacturing described in various fashions. I think of Lean as a GROWTH STRATEGY. In my eyes, the goal of Lean is to create new capacities and skills by focusing continuously on the elimination of wastes that add cost and reduce throughput of any process or product. It really is so much bigger than what can be said in a single sentence.
It’s a change in culture and a new way of life.
It starts out as a strategic process that encompasses training, buy-in, practice, and reiteration. However, it has an amazing side effect: it develops into a brand new way of looking at the way we do things.
An integral part of the Lean Process is knowing and understanding the five (5) key principles of the Toyota Production System and the seven (7) key Wastes to identify.
- Identify Values through the customer’s eyes
- Define the value stream
- Create flow where possible
- Establish pull where flow is not possible
- Continually pursue perfection
HOW DO YOU GET STARTED?
First and foremost, it needs to start at the top and it needs to be done for the right reasons.
Lean is not a downsizing or outsourcing strategy. As I mentioned before, it is a strategy for growth. It is a way to motivate your people by empowering them to work together to change their environment and improve the manner in which they do their work every day; then we celebrate each success.
This process is called Kaizen, which is Japanese for “improvement” or “change for the best”. In my opinion, Kaizen is the heart and soul of the lean culture, because it changes the way that people look at what they do and how they do it. It gives a sense of pride of ownership and a sense of belonging that is not always present in the work environment.
Now, don’t be mistaken: Creating a Lean culture does NOT mean that we’re handing over the reins and walking away. Nothing is that easy. It takes discipline, and it takes direction. That can only come from the right balance of constant gentle pressure and guidance from whomever is at the top. After all, we don’t invest without knowing the return, and we don’t make changes for the sake of making a change.
We do, however, make changes that produce a positive influence on the bottom line.
That’s all I have time for today, but I would love to hear how you might be utilizing Lean in your business. Have any of you had a “Kaizen Blitz” recently? How did that go?
Thanks for reading.