Lean is the Norm??


Including the Missing Links in the Global Supply Chain – InformationWeek White Papers:

Here's one more reason to NOT pay attention to “lean” articles from software vendors. Don't waste your time on the link above, but it includes the line:

“The ‘Lean' enterprise is the norm rather than the exception in larger companies.”

Really? Do any of you think that is true? Lean is still very much a struggle because it goes against so many of the management principles that American management is still in love with.

I've been trading emails the past two weeks with a UAW trainer who works for a major auto supplier. He is tasked with training new hires about lean. He has his doubts that management is really walking the talk with lean.

I really empathize with his situation. I think he's setting up the new hires for frustration when he has to train them on lean. This UAW trainer is very bright and articulate about lean and management in his emails to me. But, in his first email, he said he's “new” to lean and he's been at that supplier for 26 years.

If that Shingo Prize winning company was really so “lean”, how could you NOT know about lean?? He's supposed to train employees about lean and quality, but management won't people stop the line to stop quality problems. Management won't allow the supervisors to participate in the employee training. It doesn't sound like their management support is very strong for lean, they are just interested in “cherry picking” as my UAW friend puts it.

How is it that those of us lower in the organizations can understand lean but top management is so disconnected?

My final quote from the UAW trainer that really hit home to me:

“Management has this weird way of thinking they think they can open up a can of lean and it will just work. They did not take the time to change the culture but yet they expect miracles.”

That about sums up the troubles in the auto industry. I really empathize with those still trying to fight the good lean fight.

Please check out my main blog page at www.leanblog.org

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published 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.

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