Get Your Payback From Lean!

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Leading Lean: Get Your Payback From Lean!

Here's the latest column from Jamie Flinchbaugh, focused on leadership's responsibility to create opportunities for successful factories. If you're freeing up resources, equipment or people, it's the responsibility of top management to find ways to increase sales.

Otherwise, you end up in the situation of General Motors. Many, including Jim Womack, have pointed out (correctly, I think) that the problem with the infamous Jobs Bank is that GM didn't sell enough vehicles to keep employees busy, whether that was the fault of design, quality, or whatever. That's all management's responsibility ultimately, that's why they are paid the big bucks.

I think GM's employees were freed up, not so much from GM being a “stage 3” company, as Jamie describes it. That would have been a nice problem to have, having too many employees due to productivity improvements (yes, I know the data that show GM's productivity and quality have gotten better). But the reality is they weren't selling enough cars, and that was the reason for the excess employees.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. 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 book is the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus. His latest book has been released as an "in-progress" book, titled Measures of Success.

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