It’s a new year and many of us will be tackling our personal resolutions such as eating healthier, saving more or spending more time with family and friends. But resolutions in the workplace can be effective as well and one word that is on the forefront of many business owners’ minds is lean.
NPCA wrote on this topic recently in Precast Inc. in the article, “Lean Manufacturing for Precasters.” Often cited along with lean are five Japanese terms translated in English as sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain. By implementing processes of the 5S method as described within the American Society for Quality’s Five S Tutorial, resulting company-wide benefits can be:
- Improved safety
- Higher equipment availability
- Lower defect rates
- Reduced costs
- Increased production agility and flexibility
- Improved employee morale
- Better asset utilization
- Enhanced enterprise image to customers, suppliers, employees and management
So, why haven’t all companies embraced lean? First, it’s difficult and takes a lot of time and effort. Some have tried and failed and a big reason is the company – primarily management – failed to embrace and champion a true lean culture. A culture must be both dynamic and consistent and those in the culture must share and embrace common values and practices.
Culture is a powerful influence in the workplace. It plays a major role in how much employees enjoy and appreciate their work and how they act, solve problems, ask questions, receive answers, help, and respect and care for one another.
Larry Rubrich wrote that the development of a lean culture is established in two parts:
- Developing a cultural framework or structure (this can be done quickly)
- Establishing a people- and team-based environment and filling in the framework (this generally takes years)
Making lean work requires active planning, holistic guiding principles and behavioral expectations. The input comes from all, but the attitude and actions must come first and foremost from management.
Rubrich states, “A new lean culture will not develop unless the organization’s leadership team is willing to model and be the examples of the new behaviors.”
If you want to make lean a goal for 2018, everyone – particularly leadership – must go into it knowing it will be difficult and possibly excruciatingly slow moving. If you have experience or lessons, share your successes, methods, ideas and difficulties in the comments below.