Furniture Company Invests in Lean Principles

Lean Mfg Online

Furniture Company Invests in Lean Principles

How often do you see a  news article with a title like this? I find it exciting to see a news report about a U.S. company investing in its future by upgrading their facility. This is incredibly bold of them, especially in a down economy, when all you usually read in the business section is bad news!

Companies are starting to realize that many of their customer service issues can be traced back to their facility and production systems. The solution and capability to eliminate the root cause of their problem already exists inside their own facility. The solution is to train their employees to “work smarter, not force them to work harder!” They need some basic problem solving tools to allow them to improve their workplace. In doing this, the management team will see the manufacturing systems run efficiently and become more effective at servicing their customer’s needs. This is a win-win scenario for the company and their customers because they will be able to continue to generate revenues to support their employees and business interests.

Here is a great article I found in the Rome Sentinel about Harden Furniture Co. that has invested $3 million to improve their facility and production capabilities. Enjoy the article!

Furniture Company Invests in Lean Principles

Furniture Company Invests in Lean Principles - Lean Mfg Online
Furniture Company Invests in Lean Principles

The Harden Furniture Co. plans to invest as much as $3 million to install state-of-the-art woodworking equipment and engineering software later this year as it upgrades its facility and introduces additional lean manufacturing practices.

.

The upgrade is expected to occur in several phases. The first phase will be operational prior to the end of 2012 and will include a “batch one” manufacturing cell supported by a new Holtzer CNC machining center and replacement of the roughmill with a Weinig optimizing system.

.

Harden’s manufacturing facility utilizes a batch process for most woodworking operations and the modernization will convert several product lines to a lean manufacturing/just-in-time process. The anticipated benefits include shorter production lead times, an increased ability to customize existing designs and reduced operating costs. In addition, Harden has begun offering the Cabinetmaker’s Cherry Collection in solid black walnut as the new process will allow consumers to choose alternate hardwoods.

.

The introduction of additional hardwoods compliments what has been “a unique and popular Harden quality — the opportunity to select from over 40 distinctive finishes,” the company noted. The conversion of Harden’s cabinetmaking operation to “batch one” expands custom capabilities and aligns all manufacturing processes with a more efficient lean model.

.

According to President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Harden, the investment will “establish Harden as one of the few furnishings manufacturers world-wide that has ‘one off’ and true custom capabilities.”

.

Harden Furniture manufactures high-end residential and commercial furnishings.

.

Read the original article…

I take my hat off to the management team at Harden Furniture Co. because when a furniture company invests in lean principles to improve their production system, this is not an everyday occurrence.  It was inspiring and enjoyable to read about their $3 million investment to upgrade their facility.

They are continuing to follow a strong tradition of innovation amidst a world economy that is fraught with doubt and angst for most business owners and management teams. They are implementing lean principles to help them stay ahead, when so many are falling behind in the belief that they will catch up when the economy improves. This is based on false hope, and successful companies take on the challenges and learn from them.

Please share this article with your friends and work colleagues.

If you enjoyed reading this article: Furniture Company Invests in Lean Principles

You will also enjoy this article: Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner

Featured image by: freedigitalphotos.net

Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner

Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner

There Europeans have created a new lean manufacturing award to recognize companies that are demonstrating their use of innovation to create growth and jobs. The first lean manufacturing innovation award winner is Brillopak, which is a packaging company in the UK. Yes, that’s right, a packaging company. Lean principles can and are being applied and integrated into all types of business environments. Here is a snippet from the original article:

Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner

Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner
Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner
Brillopak is among the first recipients of a new award for companies which are using innovation to create growth and jobs.

The company was chosen as an inaugural winner of the Medway Innovation Voucher, towards the development of its new lean production control package. This is being developed to support small and medium manufacturers, using Brillopak’s new COMPACT C Series and robot cell packing and palletising solutions.

Brillopak Director David Jahn said: “We are very proud to have received this award, which supports our vision of building systems that have a demonstrable impact on efficiency through effective deployment of lean methodologies.

We are confident that the system will support our clients in eliminating bottlenecks across the end of line at a tactical level…[read more]

Today everyone is talking about jobs and how to create more of them. However, what’s actually happening is lots of talk and not much action. Apparently, with the current political standoff here in the US, ignoring the situation is the best way forward, well until after the election in November, when we all get to see how things will play out.

I am not sure how you feel about it, but I think the folks in Congress might do well to take notice what is happening across the pond to see how the Europeans are dealing with the same issues. They are identifying a lean manufacturing innovation award winner, while the politicians here in the US are doing nothing. 

I would prefer to see more action and less political theater here in the US Congress. Weight and tell us what you think? Leave a comment below and share this article with your friends and colleagues. 

If you enjoyed reading this article: Lean Manufacturing Innovation Award Winner

You will enjoy reading this one too: Is Your Business Staisfying Customer Needs?

Featured image by: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Is Your Business Satisfying Customer Needs?

Lean Manufacturing Metrics

The purpose of this article is to get you to ask this question: “Is your business satisfying customer needs?” This seems like a pretty straightforward question. However, it is not always that easy to get a straight-forward answer. Most business owners will tell you that they are “definitely satisfying their customer needs.” How do they know for sure? Are they telling the truth? Or, are they in denial?

The follow-up question will always throw them if you dare to ask it: “Where’s your metrics to prove it.” BAM…WHAM…KAPOW! A this point in the conversation you’re either going to be shown the door, or experience an awkward silence followed by rapid change of subject. It seems perfectly normal to ask an executive management team to share their customer satisfaction feedback or their on-time delivery metrics to demonstrate their ability to fulfill their customer needs. In fact, you would think they would be extremely excited to let you see them! If they are truly satisfying their customer needs, they are consistently delivering their products or services to them on time, every time, right?

Lean Manufacturing Metrics

You see the problem with asking the question is that the answer you receive is not always grounded in reality; it’s often based on perception.  So, does this means they are telling lies or being dishonest? No, of course not, they are simply seeing things from a different perspective, and that is all fine and dandy. What is based on reality? How do we get to see the real picture? Well, that would be simply a matter of listening to what your customers are saying about your products and services. A business owner or management team can fool themselves, and many do but they cannot fool their customers, well not for long anyway! You see, in the 21st century, a customer has many choices and they can and will change their supplier at any time if they are unhappy with them.

So, back to the original question: can your business satisfy customer needs, or not? I have created a simple flow chart that will guide you through an easy  process to discover what and how you are dealing with the current situation in your company when it comes to customer needs. Take a look at the graphic to see the customer needs algorithm. Click here to see a larger size.

Answer the first question and then follow the path to see where it leads you. Now, you get the chance to become a character in your own version of Alice in Wonderland as you follow the white rabbit. However, try to keep a tight grip on reality as you enter and go deeper into the rabbit hole.

Can Your Business Satisfy Your Customer needs?
Can Your Business Satisfy Your Customer needs?

If you answer the first question honestly, it will clearly identify whether your company’s has the ability to satisfy customer needs or not, and it will tell you what action to take. On the other hand, if you’re in denial, or unaware of the reality of your current situation, it will lead you to where you believe your company is today, and it will tell you what action to take.  Enjoy your journey down the rabbit hole!

Make sure you read my next post to get the next installment about the way companies deal with this issue and try to answer the questions: Is your business satisfying customer needs? If you enjoyed this article please share it with your friends and colleagues by email, or the social media buttons below.

If you enjoyed reading this article: Is Your Business Satisfying Customer Needs?

You will enjoy reading this article too: Does Lean Management Increase Profits?

What is a Lean Process?

One of the questions that I receive in my email inbox more than any other is “What is a Lean Process?”

what is a lean process
What is a Lean Process?

You would think that everyone would know the answer to this question, especially when we are living in the 21st century. It makes you wonder where these people that ask me this question have been living for the past few years. With companies like Toyota and GM appearing on the main news channels almost nightly for one reason or another. Did they not see the ongoing reports? Or, maybe they were focused on more important things?

It really demonstrates that people don’t find it easy to connect  common or related events together. However, this is not a scientific study, it is based on my own observations. Why is this happening?

Well, its because there is so much information being thrust at us from social media sites and news channels that its easy to get overwhelmed and lost in the quagmire of data.  The same thing happens with companies that are trying to get through their day to day business activities, going from one crisis to the next to correct an issue with a customer order, etc. They are focused on the “Urgent” and forgot to take time out to get back to the “Important.”

When you live in the fast track and get use to dealing with the urgent issues, you never get time to step back and see reality. You live in a mental construct that is like your playing a character part in the Matrix movie. You are unaware of how things are working or not working. Everything becomes a habit and we get addicted to the certainty and comfort of activities that are repetitive and familiar.

Here are a couple of short videos that will help answer the question:

What is a Lean Process?

Lean Process Training LIVE NACE 2011

Thinking about Lean in your collision repair center? The experts from 3M break down the basics of Lean Process LIVE from NACE 2011.

 

So, the first video gives a good overview of lean principles, the next video will demonstrate how an organization is using them to improve its processes.  It is important to understand the what, when and how to use lean principles to give a practical answer to the question we are posing in this article – What is a Lean Process?

 

Transforming your business through Lean Process Improvement

Don Wetekam, Group Vice President of MRO, gives an extensive presentation on how to cut costs while still operating at a high level.

This quote by George Bernard Shaw explains it better than most, “Progress requires change and if you can’t change your mind, then you can’t change anything.”

If you want to change, you have to become aware of the flaws in the current process and this cannot happen by maintaining the status quo, it requires a paradigm shift. An executive management team must gain insight into their business practices and realize that something it not working. They must stop blaming the system and start to realize that they are enabling and supporting their organizations poor performance. So, what is a lean process? It’s when employees learn how to work smarter and stop believing that the only way to improve performance is to work harder.

If you enjoyed reading this article – What is a Lean Process?

You will enjoy reading this article too – Do Lean Manufacturing Principles Work?

Featured image by: FreeDigitalPhotos

Lean Certification!

lean certification

Is Lean Certification Really Necessary?

Dispelling 3 myths about Lean Certification!

I received a call the other day from someone enquiring about Lean Certification. He told me that he wanted to sign up for my Lean Certification training course. I asked why he was doing this. What was his motivation for obtaining lean certification? He was surprised that I asked himlean certification this question. “Isn’t it obvious why I would want to do this”, he said! I was not really sure to be honest. I assumed he was trying to improve his knowledge of lean principles or something like this. I was dead wrong! He was doing it because his boss told him that it was the only way he was going to be accepted as a member on the company’s improvement team. Our conversation made me think about the misinformation that has been generated that has led to this perception. The consequence is that business owners think that lean knowledge is only acceptable when it comes in the form of lean certification. Here are three common myths  about lean certification that I want to share to dispel this belief.

Myth #1: People who attain lean certification make better practitioners!

This is probably the worst myth of all. It is a statement that is perpetuated by people who follow an academic mindset toward increasing knowledge and learning. The problem is that it is incorrect. It is the same as saying that someone with a degree achieves a higher level of job performance than someone without one. Where is the evidence to prove it? It is a statement based on biased opinions and not supported by data. Over the years, I have seen people who did not have a high school diploma achieve amazing results using lean principles when they were given the right learning environment. No lean certification here!

Lean is a process of learning by doing. A more technical way of presenting this is to say that application of lean principles is a method of converting declarative knowledge (cognitive learning) from a book, video, workshop, etc., into procedural knowledge (tasks or activities) to improve the performance of the workplace. The time required for a person to become proficient at a specific task is known as their” learning curve.” In fact, it is the amount of time a person needs to convert the information in their head into the correct physical activities to create the best results. The learning curve applies to everyone whether they have obtained lean certification or not.

The only way to learn about lean principles is through practice, which is implementing them into the workplace. Practice makes perfect and delivers results. If this can be done with the assistance of a lean sensei or mentor this is a better proposition because the learning curve will be shorter. A person with a lean certification can prove one thing, and it is that they received standardized information about lean principles. It certainly does not prove that they are more capable of improving workplace performance. Lean application, experience and measurable results are the only ways to prove if anyone can truly call themselves a lean practitioner. A lean certification is an acknowledgement of formal training.

Myth #2: Lean Certification training from an accredited organization is better!

Find any company with an opening for a lean practitioner and then take a look at their job description. What you will probably find is that they require the person to have attained lean certification from an accredited college or university. What does this really mean? Why are they required to have attended an accredited establishment? What does accreditation really mean? Is this a valid requirement for this type of lean certification?

This is the definition of accreditation according to the folks at the business dictionary online: http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/accreditation.html

Certification of competence in a specified subject or areas of expertise, and of the integrity of an agency, firm, group, or person, awarded by a duly recognized and respected accrediting organization.

In other words, the accreditation process ensures that their lean certification practices are acceptable, typically meaning that they are competent to test and certify third parties, behave ethically and employ suitable quality assurance. Extract was quoted from http://www.answers.com/topic/accreditation.

So, what are the differences between accredited and non-accredited organizations? The accredited organization can issue Continuing Education Units (CEU’s) with their lean certification training. A non-accredited training organization cannot issue CEU’s. Does this mean that receiving lean certification training from a non-accredited organization is worse? Not at all, because most are professional training and consulting businesses that generate revenues from teaching their clients Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) practices such as Lean Principles and Six Sigma. They have clients that are in the Fortune 500 class. Do you think these companies would use any organization that does not have the capabilities for delivering the best lean certification training to their employees? Of course not! The only reason for attaining lean certification with an accredited institution is to receive CEU’s and have their prestigious logo on your certificate. However, you will pay much more for the privilege of having these.

Myth #3: Lean Certification will guarantee a successfully lean implementation, every time!

Here is a scenario. I am the CEO of a company, and I just paid for 20 people to attain lean certification with a known accredited institution. I have brought all twenty people into the training room. My purpose is to try to solve a problem that has plagued the company since its inception. As the CEO I am working on three core beliefs:

  1. All 20 people have lean certification, therefore, they are well trained and understand all they need to know about lean principles.
  2. All 20 people have lean certification, therefore, they can use lean principles to identify and eliminate the root cause of the problem.
  3. All 20 people have lean certification, therefore, they have the ability to work together as a team to solve the problem.

Are these three core beliefs correct? Is the CEO doing the right thing? What do you think?

These three assumptions are “Wrong, Wrong and Wrong again.” Why would I say this?

This level of thinking has led people to believe that education is the answer to everything. The problem is that education does what it states, it educates people and improves their level of knowledge to attain lean certification. It does not necessarily demonstrate how to apply this newly acquired knowledge into a practical real-time situation. Even if this does happen, it would probably be presented in a form of a case study from a fictitious company or something similar. At best, there are limited examples of the practical application of lean knowledge during lean certification training.

The twenty people in the room are at the beginning of their application learning curve. It is a new experience, and they have no mental model to help them to assimilate their classroom experience. They are probably feeling lost and have no idea what to do next. They are worried about getting it wrong and making a huge mistake. So, what is the best way to use the limited experience of these twenty team members to achieve the desired result?

Use the services of a lean sensei or mentor to take the team through a few events to help them find their feet. This will shorten their learning curve and reduce the possibility of them making any major mistakes. This will help build confidence and bolster their own abilities to apply lean principles in a working environment. Using a mentor will also help the team members to learn how to structure the improvement events. It will help them to gain a better understanding, about how they need to work together to achieve their goal.

In Summary:

I am not opposed to lean certification, in fact, I support it. I have been responsible for facilitating lean certification training in many businesses over the years. What I am opposed to is the belief that it is the only way to create lean thinking in an organization. In my view, this is so alien to the original concepts that were established by the pioneers of lean thinking such as Henry Ford, Sakichi Toyoda, and Taiichi Ohno. The concept of kaizen is small incremental changes over time. What is included in the kaizen process is the learning experience for every individual involved. Each small improvement builds on the previous one till it eventually creates a different type of culture. An ideal one is a learning culture that uses problem solving to reach the next level. The importance of learning is explained perfectly in this quote from the Chinese philosopher Confucius. “Without learning, the foolish become wise.” Therefore, choose your lean certification based on the quality of the program, not the name of the institution!

Chris Turner is the CEO and Director of Training and Development for Radical Transformation LLC. He has 27 years of experience in the Continuous Process Improvement field. During this time, he has integrated Lean Principles, Lean Six Sigma and Change Management into his skill’s portfolio. He has worked with major organizations in the UK, USA and Canada such as the US Air Force, Canadian Ministry of Health, Siemens, Medtronic, APW, English China Clay to name a few. He participated in the design and development of Lean Certification Online, where learners have 24/7 access to online lean training materials. To learn more about lean certification training click here

Lean Management

lean management

Does Lean Management increase profits?

How Lean Management is using a new cost model to stay ahead of their competitors!

In this article, I want to take a look at the advantages of lean management and its effect on any business. There is a direct correlation between the style of management and the success of any business. Why is this? All business owners, no matter what type of field they are in are trying lean managementto make a profit. However, to understand an important business process we need to start by asking a simple question “what is profit?” A traditional business owner will say that profit is the difference between costs incurred to produce an item and the selling price to the customer. In a traditional company, the costs incurred are usually production costs, which include raw materials, labor and overhead. Profit is the amount of money added on top of the production costs to generate the selling price of a finished product. They used a traditional cost model or formula for calculating the selling price for a finished product.

Traditional Cost Model:  Selling Price = Production Costs + Profit

In today’s global markets, there are very few companies that are driven by supply and demand in the traditional sense. Today, the world markets are consumer driven, which changes the dynamics of selling and setting the sales price for any item. What does this mean for the business owner? It means they must realize that, unless they are in a niche market, there are hundreds of companies competing for the same customers. Therefore, the traditional formula for calculating profit is not going to work in this business environment. Companies must use a different formula to ensure their selling prices are competitive in the global markets. However, if they set their prices too high the consumer will not purchase their products because they will be too expensive compared to other similar products. If they set their sales prices too low they will reduce their profit margins, and this will impact overall business growth. So, what does a company need to do to compete in global markets?

As we moved into the 21st century the old business cost model has changed dramatically, to one of collaboration between consumers and businesses. Product branding has become the buzz word for any items being sold in these new vibrant global markets. Countries like India and China are expanding economies that are generating huge numbers of new consumers.  In the traditional cost model, higher prices were due to higher demand and a limited supply. However, today it is the opposite! The demand for products is still high but the selling prices of finished goods are determined by the consumer, not the business owner. If the consumer believes the selling price is too high they will go find another business selling the same item at a cheaper price. The internet has made the world a smaller place for the consumer in that they can purchase products from anywhere in the world. Modern companies are turning to lean management to change their way of thinking and developing a better understanding of what consumers want and how to meet their needs.

What is Lean Management?

Lean Management is using lean thinking to improve business practices by implementing lean principles to identify and eliminate waste. This has created a paradigm shift in business strategy and product development for the 21st century. The consumer driven markets also demand a new cost model for any business to stay competitive and thrive. A lean management team understands the needs of the global markets and how to establish a new level of thinking about setting the selling price of their products. There is a new lean cost model for defining the selling price of a product.

Lean Cost Model is:   Profit = Selling Price – Production Costs

A lean cost model is forcing companies to review their current business practices to reduce costs and increase profits. The reason for this is because the selling price is determined by customer demand. Lean Management teams understand that they have no control over the selling price, this is determined by the consumer, and therefore, they must find ways to reduce costs. Forward thinking companies are developing lean management teams to use lean principles to improve the quality of their products, while at the same tie reducing costs. The consumer has many choices to take their business anywhere they want to. The business owner has one choice, and that is to find a way to reduce costs. Lean Management is helping them to do this more cost effecively, click hereto learn more…

3 Critical Questions about Lean Principles!

lean principles

Answer these 3 critical questions before trying to implement lean principles into any type of business.

If a company can’t answer these three simple questions about how they plan to use lean principles they are doomed to failure!

The most common question I am asked is “What is the best way to implement lean principles into a business?” The answer will depend on how the business owners can define three critical factors about why they want to use lean principles :

  • Are you a willing to embrace a system of thinking that will challenge your current business model?
  • Are you willing to create a business environment that will support the implementation of lean principles?
  • Are you willing to start to see problems as opportunities for improvement rather than a necessary evil of doing business?

If you are thinking of implementing lean principles into your company and you answered “No” to any of the three questions above, stop reading this article because its not for you.

I know. You are probably surprised that I am ready to challenge you to go do something else, instead of asking you to continue to read more of this article. So, why would I be willing to do this, instead of just telling you more about lean principles?

If any business owner can’t answer “Yes” to these three key questions, their company is not ready to implement Lean Principles. The reason I am so sure that this is true is based on many years of experience working in the continuous process improvement field. To many business owners pay lip service to it, instead of doing it. Action always speaks louder than words!

Accepting change is the first step towards implementing lean principles into any business!

Change is lean principlesa condition driven by a need, and it always starts as a thought process. The first part of the process is when someone starts thinking about change and how it will impact their environment. Next, the thinking moves into research, where the person starts to look for tools and techniques. They start to learn about the different applications and may decide to choose to understand more about lean methods. In other words, they become aware of lean principles and start to do deeper research into how they are used.

The call for change usually starts at the tactical or operational level of an organization such as on the shop floor or in an office. The person wanting to implement lean principles will often be a Team Lead, Supervisor or Line Manager, who read a book, went to a seminar or knows someone who works at a company that successfully implemented lean principles. They will start to implement their own changes to help them learn more about how lean techniques are capable of improving their workplace. Some will be successful. However, most will fail and give up. Why is this?

Adults are natural problem solvers. They desire to understand the reasons why and how things actually happen. If left to their own devices they will slowly learn and find ways to improve their environments. History demonstrates this process to be true. However, the one thing that stops this process dead in its tracks is when those in charge refuse to accept change. The same happens in a business.

Executives and managers are often focused on what they consider to be important issues involved in the day to day running of the business. However, the question here is: Are they focused on the “urgent” or the “important”? This is a very simple but significant distinction. Most are entrenched into the re-active cycle of focusing on the “urgent” issues. A few see the light and move towards the more pro-active cycle of looking at what’s “important”. Lean Manufacturing, Lean Healthcare and Lean Administration all focus employees on the lean process of identifying and eliminating waste or muda.

Bringing about change in any organization requires perseverance and discipline. Implementing lean principles needs these and more. If management does not embrace the need for change it will not happen because employees will feel disempowered by the lack of support.

About the Author:

Chris Turner is the CEO and Director of Training and Development for Radical Transformation LLC. He has 27 years of experience in the Continuous Process Improvement field. During this time, he has integrated Lean Principles, Lean Six Sigma and Change Management into his skill’s portfolio. He has worked with major organizations in the UK, USA and Canada such as the US Air Force, Canadian Ministry of Health, Siemens, Medtronic, APW, English China Clay to name a few. He participated in the design and development of Lean Certification Online, where learners have 24/7 access to online lean training materials. To learn more about lean principles click here

What to do before implementing Lean Concepts!

lean concepts

5 things to know prior to making use of Lean Concepts!

Ignore these and your lean concepts will be nothing but dreams!

Changing lean conceptsany enterprise into a Lean Business may be a daunting job if the person participating in the project does not have the knowledge and experience of lean concepts to grasp what needs to be done.    Listed here are 5 factors that each business owner should really know prior to implementing a lean program.

Five factors to consider before turning your lean concepts into reality!

#1. Developing a Lean Culture:

Many organizations employ lean principles on an unplanned basis, they do not think about the consequences of their actions when attempting to develop and establish a Lean Culture. They must change their focus towards using lean concepts. The only way any enterprise will not become another failed lean implementation statistic will be to obtain the appropriate setting to support the identification and elimination of waste to increase value for its customers.

#2. Genchi Gembutsu:

A business owner is unable to know what is happening in their workplace if they are not applying “Genchi Gembutsu.” It is a Japanese phrase that loosely translates into “Go to the place where the work is being done and see it with your own eyes.” It requires employees to understand lean concepts to change their approach to finding solutions. Don’t try to improve company processes while away from the workplace, such as inside a conference room or training office. Go to where the process is currently being performed and watch it in action to get a true understanding about what is occurring.

#3. Kaizen:

The concept of Kaizen is based on two factors contained within the phrase, which are “Kai” and “Zen.” The meaning of these 2 terms is “change for the good.” It is important to understand that this implies never changing something for the sake of change itself. Make it a rule to adopt lean concepts to encourage a different way of thinking.  Only change a process when it increases value for the customer. Doing anything other than this is a waste or muda!

#4. Problem Solving:

Identifying improvements on the job sounds like an easy task, nonetheless, realistically, it is rather difficult, and the reason for this is that people don’t know the place to begin. Most organizations get their workforce to spend their valuable time concentrating on the wrong things. This causes more problems since it increases cost instead of minimizing it. Educate your workers to understand lean concepts and become problem solvers and authorize them to seek and eliminate the waste.

#5. Lean Training:

A technique to get a traditional enterprise to become more profitable would be to train their workforce about Lean Principles and how to utilize them to remove waste and improve their own workspace. This is usually a win-win for any business, its people and its customers. Get the right individual, and that is someone who has a good knowledge of implementing Lean Principles into a company. Ask them for details about previous final results for continuous process improvement (CPI) projects to demonstrate how they applied Lean tools.

Understanding these 5 simple points will get you targeted on doing the right activities and make your Lean implementation successful. Education is important but it is only by individuals following through and also employing their understanding Lean Principles that they will begin to transform their company into a Lean Enterprise. To learn more click here

Chris Turner is the CEO and Director of Training and Development for Radical Transformation LLC. He has 27 years of experience in the Continuous Process Improvement field. During this time, he has integrated Lean Principles, Lean Six Sigma and Change Management into his skill’s portfolio. He has worked with major organizations in the UK, USA and Canada such as the US Air Force, Canadian Ministry of Health, Siemens, Medtronic, APW, English China Clay to name a few. He participated in the design and development of Lean Certification Online, which allows learners to have 24/7 access to online training materials to improve their understanding of lean concepts.

Workplace Organization!

5S

Why is Workplace Organization or 5S so important?

Can 5S help you to find what you need to do your job in 30 seconds or less?

Workplace Organization is a combination of two lean techniques, 5S and Visual Managem5Sent. When implemented as part of a lean program it can help any organization to reduce the amount of time its employees spend searching for parts, materials and equipment. After initiating a Workplace Organization project it is important to communicate so others understand what they need to know about it. Doing this will increase its integrity and effectiveness in achieving its main goal, which is the identification and eliminate of waste. The more people understand the process, the more they will participate in using it and this will help it to continue to improve.

Workplace Organization consists of 5S and Visual Management!

A 5S system can be implemented into any manufacturing, office or healthcare environment. 5S will quickly reveal the many areas of hidden waste. 5S is one of the best tools to identify and eliminate waste in the workplace. Every business can apply 5S principles throughout its work processes.

Visual Management is the process of managing a production system by implementing visual controls. The purpose of doing this is to differentiate between a normal and an abnormal situation. In other words, a defect must be obvious and recognizable as a consequence of using visual controls. Visual controls are techniques that shift an organization from optional to required behavior. This could be something as simple as placing a sign or painting a location square on the floor. A good example of a visual control is lines in a parking lot. If there were no lines , where would people park their cars? Probably anywhere they could find an empty space, right! The lines are there as a guide to show people how to align their vehicles in an orderly manner, which makes it easier for everyone to park.

Workplace Organization (5S and Visual Management) is the one of most difficult techniques to implement when an organization decides to embark on a journey towards becoming a Lean Enterprise. Why is this? Well, its because it requires a high level of internal discipline to implement Workplace Organization using 5S and Visual Management. Most organizations don’t usually have this kind of discipline, this is why so many of the fail when implementing Lean.  If an organization cannot implement a robust 5S system and sustain it, they do not have the required level of discipline to implement Lean principles overall.

To learn more about Workplace Organization (5S and Visual Management) and how to build the necessary internal discipline .

Which first, People elimination or Problem elimination?

lean thinking

It’s a toss up between – Mean thinking or Lean thinking!

Lean thinking is the way of a progressive CEO!

I am often asked why it is necessary for a business to adopt lean thinking! Well, it’s will allow an organization to train its employees about Lean principles and to apply them into their business practices. A business that is not improving on a consistent basis is not growing. A company that is not growing is standing still, it is the same as treading water and it’s only a matter of time before they will sink and drown. This has already happened to many US businesses. It almost happened to the US auto industry and they were suppose to be participating in lean thinking!

I believlean thinkinge that it’s a given in today’s global economy for every company to implement Lean principles into their business practices. Why? Because the results are evident in those companies that use lean thinking to improve their processes. Those business leaders who have followed this advice are finding that  their organizations are improving and staying afloat.

We hear the latest gossip on the 24 hour news channels about how companies are improving productivity. We also hear about how many businesses are reducing their inventories. What we do not hear is why this is happening now, when we know the economy is still going south and will be for a while.

Lean thinking is easy conceptually, but not so easy to put into practice!

When one realizes that according to economists, 70% of the US economy is consumer driven. This means that people are buying things such as houses, goods, cars, etc. The Government and Business leaders alike need to change their thinking about how to overcome the key issue that faces every business today. They need to adopt a process of problem solving using lean thinking. How can consumers go out and buy things, when they do not have money in their pockets to spend? I suggest a dose of  lean thinking might be a good start! What are the root causes of the problem?

One of the root causes is the definition of financial success. The traditional CEO has one goal in life and that is to do everything possible to increase the dividend value to the company shareholders. The traditional way they achieve this is by cutting costs to increase profits. What is the number one method they use to do this? Well, they achieve it through people elimination. This is the worst kind of muda or waste because this leads to a reduction or elimination of the intellectual capital, which is the horsepower that drives service or product innovation. This is why the US is lagging behind many other countries including India and China. These countries have undertaken a paradigm shift by using lean thinking to shape their economy and their future in the global markets.

The traditional CEO will also direct their sales people to go out to find more customers and sell more services or products to drive up sales revenue and increase profits. However, they continue to ignore the simple fact that it is actually costing them 25% to 40% of their annual revenue to maintain the hidden waste that currently exists within their business systems. A 10% increase in sales is a small improvement to the bottom line compared to the effort required to generate it. However, a 10% increase in productivity as a result of eliminating waste will improve cash flow with less effort. Which is better, profit or cash flow?

A CEO of a business that has implemented Lean principles will see it from very different perspective. They will challenge all their employees to find ways to overcome the impact of the downturn in the global economy. The CEO will ask them to participate in kaizen or rapid improvement teams to use problem solving to find solutions to reduce costs and increase value for their customers. These actions will help to ensure long term employment and business prosperity.

These progressive CEO’s have taken on another challenge. They understand that the only successful way forward for any business is to adopt lean thinking and implement lean principles. Today, this is achieved through the implementation of a top down, bottom up communication system, which will encourage collaboration between employees and management. The old methods of management, which are based on a manager having power over the actions of employees is slowly being replaced. The new paradigm is one of shared responsibility and accountability between employees and management. Their focus is to create value for their customers by using lean thinking to improve their workplace.

So, the choice is simple! Increase profits through cost cutting and people elimination? Or, Increase profits through lean thinking and using problem solving to support employment and business prosperity? If you want to learn more …about lean thinking

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.