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Friday, June 12, 2015

Lean Quote: Lean is a Growth Strategy

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Many people think that Lean is about cutting heads, reducing the work force or cutting inventory. Lean is really a growth strategy. It is about gaining market share and being prepared to enter in or create new markets.— Ernie Smith, Lean Event Facilitator in the Lean Enterprise Forum at the University of Tennessee

First and foremost, Lean is about value — a bigger and more inclusive concept than mere cost. That is antithetical to genuine Lean process, the simplest definition of which is the continual pursuit, identification, and removal of waste in product and process. Waste is anything that does not contribute value — anything the customer will not willingly pay for. Traditional cost cutting occurs in silos, without regard to who is affected upstream and downstream. These impacts cannot just negate the initial cost reduction from the unilateral approach, but exceed them. Lean examines each process, internal and external, finding and removing the waste, and reducing cost while maintaining the health of all constituents.

Lean is really a systematic way to learn to see the inefficiencies in your processes and to solve these opportunities in such a way to grow the business profitably by adding value the customer will pay for. If you want to be a successful company you will learn to empower and engage the entire organization to focus improvement on value-added work from the customer’s perspective.

Lean is Not about Tools. Tools do not solve problem but rather people do. It is not about the tools it’s how they are applied. A large number of organizations have failed to produce the desired results from the direct and prescriptive application of Lean tools. The tools themselves have been proven to work in many situations. The difference must then be in how the tools were applied, their appropriateness, but not the tools themselves.

Lean manufacturing is not a head-count reduction system; instead Lean manufacturers understand employees on the shop floor know their work best. Lean manufacturers don’t want employees to work harder, or faster – they want employees to work more efficiently. Lean manufacturing focuses on improving employees, providing more value to the workforce, and, overall, establishing a dependable and stable workforce.

Company executives that treat Lean as mean and use the tools to shed people, the source of the company’s health, are either delusional or do not really care about how the company performs in the long term. A Lean implementation that results in layoffs should not be considered a successful Lean implementation.

For me Lean is a thinking methodology for running your business.  The of goal of which is to grow the business by adding value to the customer, being efficient by eliminating waste, and engaging all employees in this process.  Lean is about learning to seeing opportunities and continually improving them.  

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