Lean training and programs are more popular than ever. Implementing lean strategies is all the rage, but has your CEO really seen the lean light? Use these 10 signs as a gauge to find out.
10. He initiated a brand new lean department.
His thinking: Lean is something new. We don’t want to taint it with our quality or production departments. Quality has nothing to do with lean, and quality’s been around for such a long time that it’s kind of dull. Besides, the quality department has that ISO standard; they get to keep it going because our customers think we need to have it and demand that we do. Lean has kaizen. That’s not even part of the ISO thing. The production department doesn’t have time for lean. They have to focus on expediting orders and getting them out the door—especially that last week, every month. Lean and kaizen would interrupt this flow. I think I’ll set up the lean department’s office right next to the Six Sigma department; that’s dying out anyway.
9. She thinks one-piece flow only applies to production.
Her thinking: I get one-piece flow for manufacturing stuff or creating a service, but the thought of applying that concept to management or leadership is silly. So silly, in fact, I’ve never even thought of it. What would I do then… monitor the process every day instead of at the monthly meeting? That’s not gonna happen. Would I provide feedback and be open to my staff every day, like one-piece flow, instead of how I currently batch all of my performance reviews, once a year, at the end of the year? Fat chance. Would I conduct management review meetings more than twice a year? Yeah, right.
8. He thinks that monthly kaizen events are the key to lean.
His thinking: That’s enough sacrifice. One big ol’ kaizen event, with five or eight employees, once a month… we’ll pick a different area each month. It makes sense. We’ll batch-process our improvement efforts to get rid of batch processing. It makes sense to me.
7. She thinks that she and her staff don’t have to change their management or leadership styles and practices.
Her thinking: Lean is for the little people. Lean is a little word that little people can understand. We have a solid management team and controls in place to keep everyone in line. People are written up and reviewed when they screw up. They’re afraid of making mistakes—as they should be. But this lean could help to avoid mistakes. Yes, lean will be a nice thing for them to work on. I’ll authorize the spending of a little money; that will be how I show support. And we’ll reap the gains.
6. He thinks that we should start lean off quickly and apply an easy tool, like 5S, right away, to the messiest area in production.
His thinking: Lean is like a big old toolbox. We need to get started, and we need a quick win. So let’s get trained and start 5Sing all over the place. We’ll do the whole building, whether it needs it or not, just so everyone will learn. In fact, we can have a 5S Super Team, and it can go into new areas and do 5S in that area. We’ll do “sort” first, all over the building, before we get into “set in order.” Someone said that we should understand the problem first and do root cause analysis before choosing to use a lean tool. I should fire him for insubordination and trying to block our lean efforts. Stupid!
5. She thinks she’ll be “process focused” by ensuring measures are in place to monitor the process and have reports sent to her once a month.
Her thinking: There’s no need to get in the trenches and see the process. I can do all of that from my nice comfy office and conference rooms. The data will let me know what I need to know. It’s all in there. I’ll ensure that my people are accountable to reach my mandated objectives and goals, and we’ll review the numbers together, once a month. Besides, I wouldn’t want to intimidate my employees by periodically showing up in their work areas and watching what goes on. That’s not very pleasant for your people, and we are a people-oriented company.
4. He thinks that value streams only apply to the lean tool of value-stream mapping.
His thinking: Our functional department organization is good. Many of our department managers have been with the company a long time. They have built their kingdoms, and they’re proud of them. We can’t mess this up. Besides, it’s kind of neat to watch the internal rivalries as they compete for resources and my attention. To reorganize to something like a matrix in which people are actually focused on and work for a value stream would be way too disruptive. That would be like breaking up the Chicago Bears-Green Bay Packers rivalry! That wouldn’t be any fun. We’ve got to maintain our departmental structure.
3. She thinks lean means lean manufacturing.
Her thinking: What, apply lean in the office? Like that’s gonna happen. What are we going do… use 5S for the training room, the copy room, and the network? Right. How about we put office workers in “work cells” as if they were handing work off to each other every day? That’s crazy; office work isn’t like production work. Next thing you know, someone will suggest that we watch people work in their cubicles to see the process; now that would be uncomfortable. Or another brainiac will suggest we provide each employee with a printer to avoid the waste associated with our centralized copier/fax/scanner/printer machine. Can you imagine visual management boards in the office? No, lean will stay in production where it belongs.
2. He thinks, regardless of the lean endeavor, the company will continue to invest in the latest technology, hardware, and software to stay ahead of the competition.
His thinking: Technology is the key to staying ahead of the competition. We’ve got to be on the cutting edge of software solutions, hardware, and equipment. When there are problems, we’ll buy more technology. Technology can solve our problems. It’s more important than training people. This is a very important point: New equipment is considered an asset that can be depreciated over time; training people shows up as an expense. That decision is a no-brainer. Also, we can test any technology in-house; we’ll be the beta site. It’s all about trying new things out for the sake of just doing it and staying ahead of the competition. It’s not what’s best for our people. We’ll tell them what’s best for them.
1. She thinks that all management decisions will still be based on meeting short-term financial goals.
Her thinking: Lean does not change this at all. In fact, I want to see a financial return for all this lean training within three years, or we will scrap the whole program. Any suggested improvements will continue going through our intensive Capital Appropriation Program. We still have to meet our monthly, quarterly, and annual financial goals, no matter what. I don’t care if we have to break our backs during the last week of any time period to get the shipments out the door; we will do it. We will not invest in any frivolous long-term scheme if it hurts our short-term numbers. Why? The board will be ticked off, and I could lose my job. Simple.
The “IndustryWeek/Manufacturing Performance Institute Census of Manufacturers,” released in November 2007, showed that nearly 70 percent of all plants in the United States used lean as an improvement methodology. Only 2 percent of companies who responded to the survey had fully achieved their objectives, and less than one-quarter of all companies (24%) reported achieving significant results. That leaves 74 percent of responding companies admitting they were not making good progress with lean.
I wonder why.
[Reprinted with permission - Quality Digest and Mike Micklewright]
Sites That Link to this Post
- Top 10 Signs Your CEO Doesn’t Get Lean - Lean CEO : Lean CEO | Management et organisation | Scoop.it | 29 August 2012
- Top 10 Signs Your CEO Doesn’t Get Lean - Lean CEO : Lean CEO | Business change | Scoop.it | 29 August 2012
- Does Your Boss A LEAN Noob? | Lean Information and Tools | 14 September 2012
- Lean Manufacturing Blog | News and Reviews on Lean Manufacturing Supplies and Suppliers | 15 March 2013