Also Working on "Respect for People?"

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Article Link: Lifting specialists set to lose weight

I'm always a bit skeptical when I hear about Lean being a “project.” Sure, a project can be a starting point, but as the first step to transitioning to a Lean management system. Projects tend to degrade into former projects and former Lean methods.

“The second project is looking at reducing production costs by using the principles of ‘lean manufacturing'. MAS practitioner John Ransford said: ‘We are focusing our efforts on visual management. This is where we look at the shop floor and plan where stock should be so that the workers have the right products at the right time for assembly and don't waste time in visits to stores. We also make sure that the company isn't stockpiling which helps its cash flow considerably.'”

Without knowing the whole story, this sort of sounds like a tools-driven effort. Effective Lean efforts are not focused strictly on cost reduction. Sure, cost reduction tends to follow, but as a result of process improvement. At least they are somewhat focused on making things easier for employees, but I wonder if this is an expert-driven approach that doesn't fully engage and involve the workforce?

Remember, the two pillars of the Toyota Production System are:

  1. Elimination of waste and non-value-added activity
  2. Respect for people

As Bob Emiliani says in his new book, Practical Lean Leadership: A Strategic Leadership Guide For Executives, you can't say you're working on Lean methods if you're not also focusing on respect for people. I'll give a full review of his book when I'm finished with it.

I hope the company featured in that article/press release is working on both.

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional 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 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. His latest book has been released as an "in-progress" book, titled Measures of Success.

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