I’ve recently read articles on Lean Manufacturing and in particular how certain businesses have been re-thinking the implementation of Lean.
Now for a bit of background on the articles. All of the business Leaders that started the implementation had been replaced and within 6 months of them being replaced the new Leader had decided to drop the programme. Now most of the stakeholder’s state that their objective is to address the challenges to delivering high-value to the customer, mmmmmm I wonder? By agreeing to drop a programme of business improvement?
Yes, lean takes time, yes lean utilises the front-line workers, yes you have to manage it and believe in it, but Lean is a long term strategy, a set of principles on how you do business, your business DNA. I wonder sometimes with the drive for instant results in a short space of time, particularly from stakeholders, the impatience for money, dividends, investors ultimately see the Leader that introduced the programme removed. This leads me to believe that stakeholders/leaders are either, ignorant, arrogant, none the wiser or have their own interest at heart, on what long term strategy and Implementation actually and physically means. I have been told about the removal of 11 Operations Managers over a 18 month period due to perceived lack of results, you cannot be that wrong in your recruitment process (or perhaps you can but that’s a separate discussion), so leads me to believe it’s the level above that’s the issue.
Now don’t get me wrong, if your haemorrhaging money within operations due to scrap or process variation don’t go and implement a 5S programme. Instead stop the haemorrhaging by attacking the root causes for variation and scrap, get controllable and predictable outputs. 5S may be part of the implementation but it’s not the saviour.
I worked in a number of businesses in my career and still see the same issues regarding short term results oriented thinking that has cost millions (and yes I mean millions in some cases). When I actually know that had the Lean Initiative programme, Operational Excellence, etc. been executed and maintained when it started, those losses wouldn’t have appeared and would have been quite the opposite.
Cost cutting is often a major reason for ditching the latest programme, and Leaders think that through the force of their personality or financial acumen that they are going to be able to fix the business without the aid of every employee in the business, how foolish are they??????
Any Improvement Programme is not going to be easy, but the benefits are massive for everyone, it takes time but ‘time’ is not a reason not to try.
What did make me smile was one of the businesses new Leaders justified the termination of the programme due to that fact that the frontline workers were involved, but in involving them had potentially reduced turnover times by 6.5 mins which equated into £410000/year of increased revenue.
Lean Manufacturing, business Improvement, whatever you call it, is not a short term strategy, but that’s not a reason not to pursue it.