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You don’t get the impression that the teams that support you are interested in getting better.

When Lean starts in an organization, it is normally emphasized in production areas, typically the shop floor and then customer-facing administrative areas. As those areas improve, the form and level of help they receive from the supporting functions can lag. The Lean organizations can feel trapped. Unlike the relationship with  a non-performing vendor, they are likely stuck with their internal suppliers.


You don’t get the impression that the teams that support you are interested in getting better.

How this affects you

In a well-oiled production team, whether in the office or on the shop floor, you will be relying on other teams to support you—information technology (IT), materials, maintenance, the print shop, design engineering, tooling, accounting, etc. These groups all have many jobs, but sometimes it seems they don’t think supporting you is one of them.

Action to take

Make a list of all the teams that support you, including internal suppliers, and how they help you. Now, think about all the ways their support is measured. If your company is like many, support won’t be a primary role for these teams, so you won’t see many measures in place.

Still, before you let your frustration get out of hand, remember that they do have their other, primary jobs to do as well. Design engineers are rolling out new products, as well as supporting your team with design changes. Manufacturing engineers have to figure out new tools and get ready for product releases, but they also have to respond to andon lights. Information technology folks have to update systems, manage backups, and keep the networks going—the act of writing programs for your improvement projects is extra work for them.

To measure how well these groups support your area, you will need the support of your boss. Suggest to her that you want to put some metrics in place, and ask her to coordinate those measurements with the other groups. If your manager is not overly responsive to your request, you could talk to a trusted HR rep, drop a note in the corporate suggestion box, or find that really bold coworker who will ask a question for you at a company meeting. The idea is to get the ball rolling on putting metrics in place for the support groups…

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Why this works

The Why this Works section is only available in print copies of Whaddaya Mean I Gotta Be Lean?.


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