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By Mark Sebby, UT CIS Manufacturing Consultant
The primary idea behind Lean is to not only reduce wastes in our processes, but to also maximize customer value. Through Lean practices implementation, we can create even greater value for our customers using our current state resources. A true lean organization understands this and focuses on its key process to maximize customer value… doing what our customers want and nothing else.
Many companies misunderstand the purpose and objective of Lean and approach it as they would any other “program of the month”. Therefore, they do not realize the maximum benefits of what Lean has to offer. There are many pitfalls or misconceptions that impact a company’s ability to implement Lean successfully and these are some we typically see.
Misconception #1: Lean is only suitable for manufacturing. Lean applies to any process throughout the business. From receiving a request for quote all the way through shipping, Lean tools can enhance customer value and reduce wastes within design, transactional, and product and service provision processes.
Misconception #2: Lean is a cost reduction program. Yes, by reducing wastes Lean can make our processes more cost-effective. But more than that, Lean is a way of thinking and acting for an entire organization. Lean should be “the way we do business”. By making the Lean transformation within an organization, everyone involved starts looking at systems and processes the same way with the ultimate objective of providing maximum value to the customer with optimal resources and zero wastes.
Misconception #3: Lean is a quick fix. Many companies approach Lean by what we call “random acts of Lean or improvement”. We improved a process here, did a kaizen there, and a 5S in the warehouse. “Look, we’re a Lean organization!” Lean implementation requires a long-term vision and goals, leadership involvement and support, commitment of the organization, and perseverance in achieving the objectives. This leads to the desired Lean transformation of an organization’s culture.
Misconception #4: Lean can be done in isolation. Lean is often applied to individual departments, processes, and equipment within a business without thinking about the system holistically. Lean improvements are made without factoring in upstream or downstream impacts to our processes and our internal/external customers. Lean changes the focus of management from improving these separate processes, products, departments, etc. to instead focus holistically on the entire value streams that deliver the products our customers want.
Implemented correctly, Lean makes our jobs easier and less stressful by eliminating waste along our entire value streams. These improved processes require less human effort, floor space, capital, and time to provide our products and services at less cost and fewer defects to our customers. Lean techniques improve our internal communications and make our companies more flexible and responsive to changing customer needs.
At UT CIS, our Lean courses teach not only the “How” of Lean, but also address the “Why” and the cultural aspects of Lean implementation. Contact your local Solutions Consultant today to see how Lean can make a positive impact at your facility.
For more information, register for our 30-minute webinar on Tuesday, April 27 at 11:00 AM EST by clicking HERE