Monday, June 27, 2016
There is No Silver Bullet But There is an Answer. Lean Thinking.
American businesses are undergoing its most profound transformation since the Industrial Revolution. Everyone is familiar with the litany of external marketplace factors causing chaos in American business – global competition, technology, and demographic and political changes. These have resulted in the elimination of millions of jobs, drastic restructuring, and new business relationships.
Most of us are either in denial about the impact of all this change, do not know what to do, or are still trying to figure out how we get back in control. Unfortunately, the result so far has been more of the same, a potpourri of programs designed to change the structure of our workplaces but not their essence – their culture. Downsizing, reengineering, and restructuring programs have succeeded in altering the employment base and cost structure of our companies, but do not offer us a new cultural framework. One round of structural change often leads to another, with the focus almost exclusively on the cost side of the ledger. In fact, structural changes often produce precisely the opposite result than intended by increasing instability, fear, and reduced productivity.
There is no silver bullet that will solve the complex of issues we face. Programs that focus on organizational effectiveness, empowerment, total quality, and/ or self-directed work teams provide a much more powerful tool for change. Lean Thinking is that program that can make all the difference.
Lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments to customers. It encourages collaboration between customers, suppliers, employees and management in a positive approch to efficiency that spans the value chain.
Without this fundamental cultural change and the adoption of this new approach to leading and managing, American businesses will continue to experience significant difficulties in sustaining a competitive advantage.