Don’t piecemeal LEAN

Don’t piecemeal Lean. Picking and choosing ideas from Lean may provide some short term relief from current problems, but will, like any good band aid, mask the real issues. Go into Lean mode with a serious plan and a commitment to make it a continuous improvement effort.

Lean Manufacturing efforts are often started by companies already in trouble. Owners and managers hope that they can regain lost market positions with reduced costs and improved throughput times. While a great many of the ideas and techniques associated with Lean can be useful outside of that context, Lean Manufacturing is a best done as a new way of working, a new company culture. Don’t promote or reward the old behaviors; don’t reward mere problem identification; don’t make some small gains in costs and think you are done.

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Instead, get your company or your team to commit enthusiastically to the new behavior. Make waste reduction the new company sport! Let everyone know that their input and participation on a team is valuable and appreciated. Look for naturally occurring teams – production lines, departments, shifts, buildings. These are already comprised of people used to working together. Speak to them about Lean and tell them you will listen. The suggestion box is dead. Ideas will be shared on flip charts and white boards, and the proposals these teams make will come to you as solutions.