How to Implement Lean Manufacturing – Strategy and Spread the Word: Part 2

In the earlier post, we talked about the Strategy part of the first phase.  Now, let’s talk about the Spread the Word part.

Communication 2Remember, during the Strategy portion of this phase, we developed a set of goals, metrics, and a calendar for the lean manufacturing  initiative.  It’s time to communicate all that to everyone else in the organization.

So, essentially what you need to do is to…communicate all that to everyone else in the organization.  Yes, it’s pretty much that simple.  Take everything you’ve developed up to this point, turn it all into some computer slides and go over it with everyone.  Small groups work best and be sure to leave time for questions, of course.

“Wait a minute,” I bet you’re thinking, “Shouldn’t we train everyone in the organization about lean concepts and tools?”  Sure…if you have the time and resources.  I’ve known organizations that do just that and find it to be very effective.  I work with a company that contracts with the local Manufacturing Extension Partnership Center to train all new employees for a week in basic lean concepts and tools.

Most smaller organizations find “just in time” training to be effective and less costly.

Spread the Word 1My point here is that, large or small, every organization needs to convey its deployment plans when beginning a lean initiative.  If additional training as to lean tools is added, that’s fine, but every organization needs to communicate with its employees regarding goals, metrics, and calendar.

Here’s the thing…you can’t make Spread the Word a “one-shot, one-time” activity.  Yes, getting folks together around a table to go over the plan is a great initial step.  But you need to be creative in thinking of ways to continue to get the word out and to reinforce it.  How about putting up a central Lean Activities Board?  Shift meetings, department meetings, and management meetings should all include a review of the lean goals, metrics, and calendar.  Everybody should be included in plant and office walk-arounds.  Some of my clients have managers and associates attend regularly-scheduled Learning Circles, where participants discuss what they’re learning and how they’re applying it.


2 thoughts on “How to Implement Lean Manufacturing – Strategy and Spread the Word: Part 2”

  1. The key to effective communication is targeting your audience. Do not try to tell everybody in the business about everything that is changing, so the point about sharing goals is key, but only th goals that the audience can impact.

    As for training in lean, or any other topic, keep it to JIT. Train people just before they are requred to implement it, not just in case they might use it.

    1. Well said, Richard. I tend not to be an advocate of the “Lean 101” approach. I’ve had clients that do it and indicate satisfaction but I think it’s expensive. As my father says (he was a training and development professional), don’t train people just so that they die smart.

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