Here is an article about the Republican who lost the Michigan governor’s race last year, Dick DeVos. Considering all of the problems in the state’s economy, it might have been interesting to have a manufacturing company CEO as governor of my home state.
From the article, it sounds like there are many Lean methods and mindsets in his company, Windquest.
“This culture,” [DeVos] said, waving an arm across the floor of his Windquest Cos. factory in Holland last week, “this fast, flexible, teamwork culture, is the future of manufacturing.”
Even though the article doesn’t mean the word “Lean,” the results and culture sound like Lean:
Delivery times for custom orders have shrunk from 2 1/2 weeks to three days.
Every worker on the two production shifts is trained to do multiple tasks. Shift lengths are adjusted to suit rapid changes in order volume. “We might be six hours one day, 10 hours the next,” said Eric Wolff, the firm’s president and chief operating officer.
“The old manufacturing world, with 14 layers of pay, long lead times, inflexibility, us-versus-them attitudes — those days are gone,” said DeVos.
Shrinking lead times by eliminating waste is a common benefit of Lean. Companies often make a leap as seen there, from measure lead time in “weeks” to “days” (or from “months” to “weeks”). Getting away from an “us-versus-them” attitude sure sounds like Lean to me.
The key principles of the company:
Five banners hang overhead in the plant, exhorting workers to:
– Be enthusiastic.
– Make a difference.
– Be a problem solver.
– Find the win-win.
– Have integrity.
Again, sure sounds like Lean to me. Could he have brought that attitude and Lean principles to state government, ala Iowa? Maybe. But, at the least, let’s hope that DeVos can inspire the Michigan business to grow by being more Lean. That’s especially needed with the shrinking automotive base… ironically the home of Lean.
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