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Manufacturers Must Lean Forward, Not Backward

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IndustryWeek : Viewpoint — Manufacturers Must Lean Forward, Not Backward

The commentator, Dave Gleditsch, says:

“I was disappointed to see comments from the U.S. Department of Commerce official Al Frink at the August 8 Management Briefing Seminars held in Traverse City, Mich., suggesting that the American automotive industry may be too focused on cutting costs through Lean and Six Sigma initiatives and not giving enough attention to innovation as a vehicle for remaining competitive on the global landscape.

Mr. Frink fails to note that lean manufacturing creates not only improved cost performance, but even more important, it creates agility. And agility enables a business to be fast and flexible, with profitable performance. He also shows a lack of understanding of the depth of the challenge that many manufacturers — particularly in the automotive sector — face right now.”

I agree with Gleditsch — lean HAS to be more than just a cost cutting exercise. Lean needs to focus on the customer and on creating value. But is the auto industry treating JUST as cost cutting? What do you think? I've been away from the industry too long to really know. Is the auto industry using lean to create value or just to cut costs?

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and 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 an anthology 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.

1 Comment
  1. "Sam" Grant says

    Mark, maybe a better question would be “is the automotive industry using lean?” I’m personally involved in this industry and I see very little evidence of any real lean action, just a lot of talk. Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and their supply chains are using it, but GM, Daimler-Chrysler, and Ford? Get real. They are still drowning in their own waste.

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