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Archived for the ‘Nuts & Bolts Guide: Section’ Category

There is no specific ‘Next Step’ at this point in Phase 1. People explore Lean in their own ways. We encourage you to continue to learn as much as you can to get to the point where you decide to move forward and can start taking concrete steps.

The decision to become Lean, or to embrace any continuous improvement philosophy for that matter, is not to be taken lightly. While the results can be incredible, about three out of every four companies do not achieve the results that they expected when they began their Lean journey.

In addition, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to change the DNA of a company. And make no mistake. That is what you need to do if you want to create a culture of continuous improvement. So, it’s going to take a lot of work and there is still a three in four chance that you won’t get what you want out of it. Why, then, should you, or anyone, take on the challenge of becoming Lean?

Prerequisites

Make sure you understand the benefits of Lean prior to deciding if the transition is right for you. This lesson is about assessing your organization for potential pitfalls. You need a good feel for what the upside is before assessing obstacles.

Section Details

Estimated Time for Section: Varies, depending upon the level of assessment/discussion you need to do in your specific situation.

Difficulty: High

Risk: High

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We have a complete Lean Overview module in Volume 2, but it is hard to make a decision to move forward without at least a cursory introduction to the specifics of Lean.

This section is a summary of our Lean overview, and is intended to provide you with some information so you know what you are getting yourself into.

We’ve put a lot of terms (with links) into the discussion below. Don’t spend too much time following them, though. As you progress through later sections of this practical guide, you’ll be introduced to them at the appropriate time. They are just included here so you can look deeper into the terms that might have you on the fence about whether to commit to continuous improvement or not.

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World-class companies take on projects that change the world. That’s not to say they engage in fantasy projects. But their confidence lets them take on game-changing projects that others would not even attempt.

Progress in the world is a mixture of evolutionary change and revolutionary leaps forward. World-class companies are well positioned to exhibit the grand thinking that changes the world.

ABOUT CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT TRANSFORMATION PRINCIPLES

CI Transformation Principles are the guiding rules that apply to all companies that are trying to make changes. They are similar to natural laws. Learn more about how principles guide your Lean journey in our entry on ‘Principles and Values.’

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Confidence is a key principle for world-class companies. They don’t concede victory to other dominant players in the market. Granted, there is a fine line between confidence and overconfidence, but in world-class companies, the line between the two is often much further off in the distance than it would be for a company that doesn’t have the same history of sustained high performance. World-class companies take on challenges knowing that their systems will get them there, even if they don’t know the path yet.

ABOUT CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT TRANSFORMATION PRINCIPLES

CI Transformation Principles are the guiding rules that apply to all companies that are trying to make changes. They are similar to natural laws. Learn more about how principles guide your Lean journey in our entry on ‘Principles and Values.’

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If you don’t track how things are going, getting better is harder than it should be. Can you improve if you don’t track things? Sometimes. The problem, though, is that problems are often subtle and sap resources without you even knowing it. Others are noticeable, but are hard to compare with each other for prioritization purposes. And still others are obviously problems, but are hard to pinpoint the exact nature and magnitude of the problem. There’s an old adage, “What gets measured, gets done.” A strong business system relies heavily on measurement to drive the improvement process.

ABOUT CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT TRANSFORMATION PRINCIPLES

CI Transformation Principles are the guiding rules that apply to all companies that are trying to make changes. They are similar to natural laws. Learn more about how principles guide your Lean journey in our entry on ‘Principles and Values.’

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You may have gotten to Phase 6 on the backs of strong leaders and a handful of motivated individuals. But your company will not thrive once you arrive here unless you get everyone bought in. The ‘full’ in this principle actually has two meanings.

The first is that you need everyone to be engaged. Every person who is resistant is like an obstacle that disrupts your culture. The ‘full’ also means the level of engagement of each of those individuals. Being OK with the change is not enough. They need to embrace the culture and be able to act in the absence of specific guidance.

This is a unique principle in that it is both the cause and the result of success. The more engaged a team is, the more likely the team is to be successful. The more successful a team is, the more likely they are to be engaged. Note that this reinforcement cycle also works in reverse.

ABOUT CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT TRANSFORMATION PRINCIPLES

CI Transformation Principles are the guiding rules that apply to all companies that are trying to make changes. They are similar to natural laws. Learn more about how principles guide your Lean journey in our entry on ‘Principles and Values.’

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The more you think in terms of systems, the more effective your company will be. Don’t just focus on drawing up Standard Work. Look at the entire work management system. Knowing how you will train people, and even hire people, can drive the way you document and structure your work.

Thinking in small chunks can make processes extremely efficient…locally. But sometimes local efficiencies hurt the big picture. And even once you start thinking in terms of systems, your work is not done. You have to continually improve those systems.

ABOUT CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT TRANSFORMATION PRINCIPLES

CI Transformation Principles are the guiding rules that apply to all companies that are trying to make changes. They are similar to natural laws. Learn more about how principles guide your Lean journey in our entry on ‘Principles and Values.’

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There is an old story about a company that sourced a component from a Lean oriented supplier in Japan, and insisted that the vendor met a 2% failure rate target. The Japanese company balked and resisted that rate, but the purchaser insisted. Finally the Lean company relented and agreed to the 2% target. When the first order of 100 components arrived, there were 98 in the box, and 2 separated with a note saying, “Here are the two bad components you wanted. We still don’t understand why you need them.”

The point of the story is that one company lived by a zero defects mentality and the other followed the traditional path of assuming that there would always be some failure rate. Now, in truth, no process is perfect. But the pursuit of perfection gets you a lot closer to zero defects than accepting that a portion of your work will always be shoddy.

ABOUT CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT TRANSFORMATION PRINCIPLES

CI Transformation Principles are the guiding rules that apply to all companies that are trying to make changes. They are similar to natural laws. Learn more about how principles guide your Lean journey in our entry on ‘Principles and Values.’

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There is a common misconception that inspections are an indicator of a good quality program. The truth is that inspections mean complacency. They require that you understand the failure modes and know what to look for.

That means you have known problems that you are accepting. A better way is to go after each item you inspect for and find a way to keep the error from happening at the source.

ABOUT CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT TRANSFORMATION PRINCIPLES

CI Transformation Principles are the guiding rules that apply to all companies that are trying to make changes. They are similar to natural laws. Learn more about how principles guide your Lean journey in our entry on ‘Principles and Values.’

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Most people go to work to do their job. When a company becomes focused on continuous improvement, that is no longer enough.

The true turning point of a company on its Lean journey is when employees begin to take personal responsibility for making their own work better. Obviously this means that managers need to let go of the feeling that they are the ones that dictate how work is done.

ABOUT CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT TRANSFORMATION PRINCIPLES

CI Transformation Principles are the guiding rules that apply to all companies that are trying to make changes. They are similar to natural laws. Learn more about how principles guide your Lean journey in our entry on ‘Principles and Values.’

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One of the barriers to both creating flow and providing value is that companies are not organized to do either effectively. They tend to have their management system set up in functional silos. To deliver something to the customer it must cross several managerial boundaries. Each manager has his or her own budget and agenda.

Instead, companies should map their value streams so they can better understand how to get products to customers in the best way. They should also organize their management system by value stream so leaders can think globally instead of functionally.

ABOUT CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT TRANSFORMATION PRINCIPLES

CI Transformation Principles are the guiding rules that apply to all companies that are trying to make changes. They are similar to natural laws. Learn more about how principles guide your Lean journey in our entry on ‘Principles and Values.’

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Taiichi Ohno, the father of modern Lean is credited with saying something to the effect of “without standards there can be no improvement.” While the translation may not be exact, the gist of it is what is important.

The first problem is that if there is no standard, it is impossible to recognize when an abnormal condition presents itself. The second issue is that if you do recognize that something is wrong, how do you make a change to something that is always changing? Standards provide the foundation so you are not chasing a moving target when making improvements.

ABOUT CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT TRANSFORMATION PRINCIPLES

CI Transformation Principles are the guiding rules that apply to all companies that are trying to make changes. They are similar to natural laws. Learn more about how principles guide your Lean journey in our entry on ‘Principles and Values.’

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