How to Sustain Lean Implementation
I was in a conversation with a customer recently about Lean. My customer asked the question: What Lean tools should I learn to make improvement happen?
“That depends”, was my first reply. “What is the problem you have that means a lean tool is the solution?”
All too often we jump straight from the problem to the solution. In this case the customer was trying to guess that lean would contain the right solution, and it probably will, but first you need to understand the problem. What is the current situation and why do you need to do anything at all?
When I started learning lean through its application in 1999 it was very tool focused; we read the books, we practised the tools and we implemented kaizen. We introduced Kaizen with the intent of implementing one or several of the lean tools that we were taught. This was hard work but persistence started to pay off and we saw some rewards but these were not sustained. When the kaizen team moved to the next opportunity the solutions implemented were ignored. Well, we put this down to ignorance on the part of those in the process, the operators. I now know this was wrong.
In fact we were the ignorant ones, as a kaizen team we would turn up on Monday with the problem as the manager saw it, implement the improvement in the form of the correct lean tool as we saw it. We did not ask those who worked the process what they saw, this was wrong. Lean is not about the implementation of tools it is about the inclusion of people. It is about showing respect to those who work in the process and helping them to achieve more.
At EMS Cognito we make an IMPACT by including those who work in the process, working with them to implement solutions to a business problem. Then the improvement is sustained.