Donald Trump’s Red Hat (and Other Politicians’ Hats) Brought to You by Lean Manufacturing

Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 6.49.28 AMLast week, I attended the Northeast Lean Conference in Massachusetts, produced by GBMP. I had a great time, teaching a half-day workshop on Kaizen, leading a session where I facilitated Dr. Deming’s “red bead experiment,” and hearing my friend Dan Markovitz talk about his new book Building the Fit Organization.

By the way, Dan is doing a free webinar next week about the book if you’d like to sign up.

The conference had a “Lean Mall” where various companies had displays about their Lean efforts. I saw a very recognizable red hat — it’s the Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” hat.

These hats (and hats for other candidates including Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush) are made by a Newark company, Unionwear. Lean is their strategy and their production system. That’s how they are competing against China.

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I wrote an article about this on LinkedIn, but I’ll share more photos here in this post.

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Hear Mark read the post (subscribe to the podcast):


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Click on any of the photos for a larger view.

Part of the display (I didn’t get a picture of the width of the entire display, unfortunately):


The storyboards emphasize core Lean concepts like:

  • Continuous flow or one-piece flow
  • Quality at the source
  • Stopping the line
  • Effective training
  • Reducing waste

There’s one story that was posted about improving flow by reducing batching:

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They moved machines closer together to reduce traditional batches. They were able to reduce lead times from three weeks down to three days. Smaller batches means, also, that you’re going to find quality problems (and solve them) more quickly. Reducing batching isn’t easy (I know that’s true in more recent experiences in hospital labs), but if you work together to sort through the challenges, it’s worth it.

I love, also, how they talk about having to change their management styles. That’s key, of course, with Lean. It’s not about fixing broken workers.

Here’s a photo of their value stream analysis (for a type of bag they produce):


Here’s the president’s letter that I shared on LinkedIn:


I’m hoping to connect with Cahn to learn more about this story and, hopefully, do a podcast with him.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.


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