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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
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Mark

    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



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