Reader Question: GM and Lean
From Devin, a graduate student, posted with his permission:
“I’m an operations management student who is writing a report on lean manufacturing at GM. However, the more I research, the more I find that there’s far more to write about with regard to what GM is not doing than what it is.
I guess my question is, would you agree that GM has simply applied the aspects of lean that most conveniently fit its work culture? I mean, I look for examples of lean at GM, and all my research really pulls up is things like a kanban system at a Saturn plant or the use of the “five whys” for a process improvement of some sort.
It seems to me that these aspects of lean are simple enough to implement that they don’t really require the cultural change of something like standardized work, but they’re enough for the company to see some moderate improvements that it becomes content with, and as a result, causes the company not to explore any of the other aspects of lean.”
Any GM folks care to chime in, even anonymously? Is this a fair question? How would you respond from your experiences?
This is also a classic Lean adoption question that could apply to other companies. Do you try to adopt everything from Toyota or just the pieces that don’t challenge your old thinking too much?