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Shop Management Lean Manufacturing – The Lean Question: How Soon Can I Get Started? – 04/07

From the not-so-widely read “Moldmaking Technology” magazine (no offense to mold makers)…

Here's a good “get going” kick-in-the-butt for those who are only considering lean, written for moldmakers, but could apply to just about any industry.

“[Insert your industry here]s have long felt that lean applies only to high-volume automotive operations, but that's simply not true. Every operation has waste—in excess motion, waiting, transportation, defects, processing inefficiencies, overproduction, excess inventory and much more. Lean is relentless in eliminating waste and producing top business performance. And top business performance wins.”

There's great advice in the article:

– Develop a thorough understanding.

Many great resources (including our friend Jamie Flinchbaugh) are mentioned. I might also suggest regular visits to the Lean Blog as another good way to learn about Lean ;-)

– Recognize both the necessity and the urgency.

– Focus first on the needs of the business, and only then on the tool

Amen to that. The focus should be on improving the business through Lean methods, rather than the focus being on implementing Lean.

– Involve the necessary people.

– Provide hands-on leadership, not just support.

“If a lean program, or any other program for that matter, is failing, it is probably not the fault of the tools,” says lean expert Dennis Pawley. “It is failing because of lousy leadership.”

I've said the same thing recently, in my post “Lean Does Not Implement Itself.”

The article also lists five steps for getting back on track with Lean if you say you already tried it and it didn't work. Check it out.

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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.

  1. robert says


    This is a great find and an excellent overview. I often use Kotters change model, which goes something like:

    1. Increase urgency
    2. Build the Guiding Team
    3. Get the Vision Right
    4. Communicate for Buy-in
    5. Empowering Action
    6. Create short term wins
    7. Do Not Let Up
    8. Make Change Stick


  2. […] news gets splashed on the front page of the WSJ and the covers of Business Week, FORTUNE, and even Moldmaking Technology. I hope BCG makes a lot of money telling companies to consider strategies other than racing to […]

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