It's been a while since a Lean As Mistakenly Executed (L.A.M.E.) sighting. Or, in other words, stuff that gives Lean a bad name:
About 45 General Dynamics Armament and Technical Products employees in Marion learned Thursday their jobs are being cut over the next few weeks.
According to a release from James D. Losse, General Dynamics' vice president and general manger of advanced materials, the layoffs are “part of a broad program to improve its competitiveness that also includes the introduction of Lean Manufacturing/Six Sigma techniques and other efforts to improve the company's ability to compete.”
How about we blame the layoffs on Six Sigma then, instead of Lean.
The definition of Lean in the article is pretty bad:
“Lean manufacturing is a popular, widely-used term for reducing labor, investment costs and manufacturing site size to lower production overhead.”
Lean is NOT a system that focuses primarily on reducing labor. Argh. How come their definition of Six Sigma involves increasing company profits, but Lean is just “cost cutting?” True Lean (the Toyota Production System) is about two things, two pillars:
- Eliminating waste (which can reduce costs or help increase revenue through better quality and service) and
- Respect for People
Part of the second pillar is that we have employees engaged and involved in Lean improvements. So when Lean is associated with layoffs, who is going to participate in Lean or in the waste reduction or kaizen?
Why is it that General Dynamics (and so many other companies) focus only on the first pillar, not the second? The factory there has 600 employees and is getting new business… it's too bad they can't use Lean to grow without increasing headcount instead of relying on layoffs to cut costs.
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