Teams and Lean Manufacturing

E

energy

#11
What if?

Howdy Y'all,

What if it is determined that Lean was a mistake? The advocates of such a program will probably say, “That can’t be. Processes can always be Leaned.” (After all, they say so.)
As we are winding down, the trainers are scratching to show a reduction in some processes to justify their existence. Their panic is evident. “Well, you were already “Leaning” your processes before we got here.” So? Your point is? Good business practice is to eliminate redundancies and waste. You don't need Lean to do that. A good group of people with an eye on the bottom line can do it as well as any "professionally concocted fad" designed to line someone elses pockets.
The team has been tasked to "come up with some things" to put in the report to the CEO showing him that it just wasn't a waste of time and money. Why? Because they couldn't "Lean" anything but the company coffers.:eek: When I originally posted my negative opinion of the "Lean" process, I had just come from the class with that as a home work assignment. I will not justify their existence or that of "Lean". Let them do it. And, they better be honest or they will know what "Mean" is.:smokin:
 
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Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#12
Curt,

I knew what you meant, no problem there. I like many of the concepts too. The Lean concept, as developed by Taichi Ohno in the early 60s and promoted heavily here by Jim Womack, is a good concept. But to energy's point, the concept is not new. Elimination of needless redundacy and waste dates back to before recorded time.

Two of the largest problems I see with Lean are: the interpretation of what Lean is and the interpretation of what Lean is. For starters, Senior level managers do not recognize that Lean Manufacturing is a methodology and set of tools. It is not a philosophy but they try to use it like one. Secondly, Senior level managers often think that Lean is lean. In many of their minds, lean means canning a few positions or not filling others vacated by attrition, lowering the denominator in the 'profit per employee' equation. This is done often lacking common sense and good ethics. I agree with energy on the level of frustration experienced. If you love people, seeing this practice is infuriating!

In our organization, 5 positions were dissolved. Reason given: redundancy. In the last week, we have had several meetings to discuss who will take over vacated responsibilities which begs the question: redundancy? While invariably there was some overlap, the question in regards putting someone out of work needed to be closer examined. The message sent is quite clear: justify yourself. In this environment, will teamwork flourish or fade? Would you put yourself at risk in absorbing additional duties thereby minimizing your effectiveness and efficiency at any one of them?

Environment is a key factor to the success of teams and their ability to create teamwork. If a company was serious about the success of programs, they would reflect less on the financials initially and focus on the impact of the program. In recent months, Lean has been associated with Six Sigma. No mystery there, the focus is on financials. The strength of a Financial Paradigm is very strong when championed by a Chief Financier. Lots of long-term damage can be done. But I digress...

Kevin
 
E

energy

#13
We ain't scared

Kevin,

Not once was the elimination of positions or personnel ever discussed. All our people were all hired with certain skills. These skills are vital to the business. In the event of an ecomonic slowdown, there would be 4 day work weeks or some other schemes to retain people. That wasn't or is the problem. The problem is there is no problem with waste or redundancy. The decision to hire is often based on people being able to perform mutiple tasks, effectively. I agree that you can become inefficient if your workload is too great. But, when that situation arises, cross training becomes your best weapon. We have had Designers with no work because of a slow down in "drawing" work. These people have gone to the GM looking for work. Any kind of work. They have assisted in the warehouse, shot blasting operations, assembly work and other tasks outside the scope of their regular duties. That's how a company survives. We are a "working team" who resent someone preaching the team concept here. It's a waste of our valuable time because we know there is no fat in our methods. You get aggravated when "Professionals" talk to you like you're in the fifth grade and offer nothing new. Large companies that are steeped in tradition and have hundreds of employees CAN benefit from a program like Lean Mfg. It just doesn't figure in here. Arguments against going through the Lean Program here to the "Main Main" fall on deaf ears because the depth of what we actually do is unknown to him. Our company could be drawn as a Pyramid with a blunt tip. It's like a hidden company within a company. So, it's back to ancillary duty as Safety/Environmental Manager. Guess what? I'm deemed as effective:biglaugh:

I love the pop up message that comes on the screen saying that you or someone else has posted to a thread I subscribe to. Like a moth to the flame, I'm drawn. Later Guru:lick: :smokin:
 
Last edited by a moderator:
C

Curt de Mich

#14
LEAN

Kevin,

To date our management staff has lost 3 positions 1. Purchasing 2. Inventory Control 3. Scheduling Coordinator. Of those lost to "lean" ZERO have been or will be replaced. It has fallen on the shoulders of the rest of us to pick up the slack:mad:

:biglaugh: Our senior management just doesn't seem to understand that "lean" is process oriented:rolleyes: If ever they would take the time to attend some of these seminars, that they themselves mandate maybe then they would understand.

Our largest customer proposed that we send all of our front line supervisors to a 3 day seminar on "lean". The lean concepts were presented very well, but with out any knowledge of our manufacturing process. Therefore most information was virtualy useless. I must give our supervisors high praises, for they tried in vain to bring back as much of this information overload as they could. We started to look at dock to dock, first time through and eliminating non value added steps. All was well until management realized how much time was involved in the implementation of such concepts. :eek:
from that point on it was about eliminating positions not steps in the process.:confused: . A select few are still trying to do some good but we still meet heavy resistance.

The best thing to come from "lean" training is our 5S housekeeping TEAM. I just realized that because they just came through my ofice...

C-YA,

Curt
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#15
Many organizations depend on attrition to make the "profit per employee" acceptable. How many ask why someone is leaving in the first place? Why not build the numerator through planned activities, market research, increased business and just hire fewer to do things because the processes and system has been optimized?

The former is much easier to do.


Kevin
 
C

Curt de Mich

#16
Originally posted by Kevin Mader
Many organizations depend on attrition to make the "profit per employee" acceptable. How many ask why someone is leaving in the first place? Why not build the numerator through planned activities, market research, increased business and just hire fewer to do things because the processes and system has been optimized?

The former is much easier to do.


Kevin
:D EXACTLY:D

C-YA,

Curt
 
M

Michael T

#17
Re: What if?

Originally posted by energy
Howdy Y'all,

What if it is determined that Lean was a mistake? The advocates of such a program will probably say, “That can’t be. Processes can always be Leaned.” (After all, they say so.)
As we are winding down, the trainers are scratching to show a reduction in some processes to justify their existence. Their panic is evident. “Well, you were already “Leaning” your processes before we got here.” So? Your point is? Good business practice is to eliminate redundancies and waste. You don't need Lean to do that. A good group of people with an eye on the bottom line can do it as well as any "professionally concocted fad" designed to line someone elses pockets.
The team has been tasked to "come up with some things" to put in the report to the CEO showing him that it just wasn't a waste of time and money. Why? Because they couldn't "Lean" anything but the company coffers.:eek: When I originally posted my negative opinion of the "Lean" process, I had just come from the class with that as a home work assignment. I will not justify their existence or that of "Lean". Let them do it. And, they better be honest or they will know what "Mean" is.:smokin:
Greetings all....

Sorry I missed this yesterday - I was home with a sick baby... poor little guy... :(

I propose that "Lean" does not work... not after it's initial blush. It falls prey to the law of diminishing returns. I'll grant that if a company has been operating "fat" during the boom of the '90's, they may have some areas they can legitimately be examined for those redundancies and inefficiencies that can cause excess waste. However, after a company has gotten all the benefits it can from "Lean Manufacturing", how much more "lean" can you get?

Another problem with "Lean" is that it is typically manufacturing or shop floor focused. It doesn't necessarily look at the whole organization or how the whole organization is operating. Gods forbid if you cast the "Lean" eye on the Executive VP's wife's job in "Advertising" who couldn't design a decent ad campaign if her life depended upon it, or the Marketing VP's brother-in-law's job as a salesperson who couldn't sell water in the desert. No... we aren't going to focus on that "fat". Besides, the people on the shop floor don't know what is going on in the front office. Yeah...right. :rolleyes:

Something else that has disturbed me about "Lean Manufacturing" is the feeling that it absolves Management of their responsibility to run a "tight ship". If you throw "lean" on the shoulders of those on the floor, where is management's part in all this?

Just some thoughts on a Wednesday morning...

Cheers!!
 

SteelMaiden

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#18
I am just going to jump in here, nothing really new to say but one of my pet peeves is managers who think they should jump onto the bandwagon of every "new?" program that hits the streets.

Lean should be the norm, not the exception. Why have redundant processes, people, programs and whatever? The purpose of any business is to make money. Any other commitments are good, but if the company cannot make money, it doesn't matter how many other warm and fuzzy missions they have. It's common sense, right?

The statements about cutting shop floor personnel and continuing to add administration personnel are too often true. I've been in industry a lot of years and seen it happen often. But, isn't that only a reflection of poor management and the inability to grasp the concept? I count myself lucky that our Corp. is actually pretty good at running lean, treating people fairly and taking care of community, cultural and environmental concerns.

If you truly want to run lean and you have your personnel in order, take it another step further. Just for fun, go walk around the plant and pick up every shop rag laying discarded on the floor. Or check out how much paper is wasted by printing stuff out and tossing it in the trash with no visible signs that it was used. Lean is not a program to be followed from some training manual, lean is a way of life and very individual for each company.

Oh, well, I feel so much better now that I have ranted. I hope that I haven't offended anyone out there who has a string of letters after their name, but sometimes common sense is under-rated.

Have a good one!
 
E

energy

#19
Not to worry

Originally posted by SteelMaiden

I hope that I haven't offended anyone out there who has a string of letters after their name, but sometimes common sense is under-rated.
SteelMaiden,

Don't worry about the letters after the name. I never do!:rolleyes: Besides, I have some letters, too. Jr.:biglaugh:

It really isn't the letters as much as the layers of skin. Go for it!:smokin:
 

SteelMaiden

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#20
Well, I've got a couple of letters after my name too, so I don't really mean any harm, but my experience has often shown that some of the very smartest people I've ever met had the least common sense, whereas Forrest Gump knows where the true core values lie.
Have a good one!:)
 
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