OK, I don’t actually want you to altogether forget about lean. I do want you to get rid of the notion (if you ever had it) that lean is a tool bag of tricks and techniques for wringing a few bucks out of your manufacturing processes or for getting another percentage point of efficiency from your employees. There are ways of achieving those ends if that’s what you want but lean ain’t it. Rather, lean is all about creating a smooth, consistent, predictable flow of information and materials through your organization. I found a couple of good articles that reinforce my thinking that I want you to check out.
I’ve often said that lean is NOT cost cutting. Maybe a better way to put it is, lean is one thing…cost cutting is another. I found an article that provides a few good examples of cost-cutting that aren’t lean. And that’s not a bad thing.
Continue reading Cost Cutting vs Lean
In a recent (excellent) article on the challenges of sustaining 5S, James Womack (author of “The Machine That Changed the World”) tells us:
“I frequently hear 5S advocated as some sort of “clean up, fix up” campaign, an “easy way to get started with lean”, raise morale, impress investors, impress customers, and, in general, create the appearance of a “world-class” company (whatever a “world class” company may be).”
In the last post, we recommended posting charts at each work station to gather information about production and performance that would be used to identify and solve problems. Remember, the purpose of these charts isn’t simply to gather data that will be used later by your resident black belt (though it certainly could be). The purpose is to identify and address problems in real time, in other words, lean problem solving. So we’re interested in gathering as little information as possible in as “user-friendly” a way as we can and still get good problem solving accomplished.
Yep, I changed things around a bit here and splashed on a new look. It’s a bit cleaner and (I hope) a bit better organized. I hope it suits.
Lean efforts will be successful to the degree to which we have operational excellence in the shop. Inventories and costs will decrease to the extent that we can reduce downtime, scrap, delays, scheduling problems, die problems, and equipment problems. There’s no value in a value stream mapping and no good in pushing a pull system unless we also address those problems that will keep them from being effective. Supervisors and operators need to be actively involved in problem solving.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m getting started on putting more material on YouTube. Here’s my latest…it’s an overview/description that answers (one hopes) the question, “What is Lean?”
I hope you’ll get a chance to check it out. I think my own definition, while not brand new and “never-heard-of”, does take a bit of a different slant from that of many of descriptions. And, as you might imagine, I like my description better. So, go take a look!
Yeah, it’s kind of easy to say Talan Products is a great company…after all, they were smart enough to hire me to help them implement their lean initiative several years back, right?
Seriously, I can vouch for the fact that, just as this article says, Steve Peplin and Talan Products practice their values every day.
I teach a course at Kent State in which I hold forth that a strong, positive culture provides a strategic advantage for the organization. Talan Products is strong evidence for this assertion.
Read and enjoy!
I’ve updated a video I posted to YouTube some time ago. (Actually, what I did was delete the old video and replace it.) The video is a quick overview that answers the question, “What is 5S?”. I hope you’ll take a look at it.
I’ve learned recently that about any search term that includes “Six Sigma” does well. Regular readers know that I haven’t talked much about Six Sigma over the many months I’ve been involved with this blog. I’m not a Six Sigma “any-kind-of-belt” but I do know a bit about the statistical tools that Six Sigma advocates. (Design of Experiments is a bit above my pay grade but I’m betting the number of actual Design of Experiments projects run in any given year by manufacturers is relatively low.) All to say, it’s not because I don’t like Six Sigma that I don’t talk about it much. It’s more that Six Sigma and Lean and their relationship are misunderstood by most managers and I’ve focused on trying to clarify the “lean” part of it.