'There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently
that which should not be done at all'.
Lean Leaders Continue to Struggle Moving the Needle
Nazareth, President of OpEx Solutions
Recently, OpEx Solutions had a Leader Strategy Session, as a part of the
CenTex OpEx Consortium events, with a focus on “Performance Metrics”. Operations and operational excellence leaders
from several organizations attended the session. While not surprising, it was sad to hear after almost twenty years of Lean
and Six Sigma implementation we have not moved the needle on a sustained basis. In the process we have not only spent millions
and billions of dollars, but, also lost precious time while the undistracted companies and countries have moved ahead. Many
companies who implemented Lean rigorously, religiously and with a sense of urgency have been recipients of the prestigious
Shingo Prize awards, but are struggling to survive. Delphi had probably won the highest number of Shingo prizes and filed
for Chapter 11 in 2005. Some others who followed the similar path were Kodak, Xerox, …
and Six Sigma concepts can be very helpful if they are used correctly; however the issue is the way they are implemented.
A few points stand out as significant issues in our operational excellence journey:
- Tool-based implementation,
especially using Japanese terms for tools that were learned from Americans, has led to disruption and distraction from operations’
focus on the mission and vision of the organization.
- Lean and Six Sigma expertise has been weighted more than process
and technical expertise. At Delphi, Kodak, Motorola and other companies, many industrial engineering departments and industrial
engineers disappeared when Lean and Six Sigma were introduced.
- Most companies have resorted to radical improvement
rather than continuous improvement. While we heard it loud and clear from the Japanese that continuous improvement (kaizen)
played the most significant role in their progress, we Americans resorted to radical improvement using the same term —“kaizen”.
Radical improvements included stripping off one-piece flow lines and replacing them with U-cells, forcing U-cells in job-shop
environments and forcing one-piece-flow cells without adequate volume.
It is not too late to get back on the right
path and the experience gained is not a total waste. The operations people are hurt, but are more forgiving than we can imagine.
One of our clients recently stated: “… radical changes under the Lean initiative set us back ten years …”.
While they feel like reinstating the pre-Lean condition, they are accepting the current state and want to move forward rather
OpEx Solutions has learned a lot from prior mistakes and corrections made by some of our clients and
members before our association. Here are ten points to consider for moving the needle:
- Understand the Lean and
Six Sigma principles, concepts and pre-requisites rather than mass-training on tools.
- Apply principles to align with
your operational environment with minimal change using only the needed tools.
Toyota Leads Kaizen CenTex
Consortium Learning Event
Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc., hosted a CenTex OpEx Consortium Learning Session
on October 10, 2012 at its plant in San Antonio, Texas. Twenty nine people from eleven different organizations participated
in the session.
Famous for it's Toyota
Production System (TPS), Toyota is the name everyone thinks about when when kaizen (continuous improvement workshops) is
mentioned. Lunch was followed by a presentation of how Toyota does kaizen and how it should be used for most effective results.
After the presentation, a riding tour of the plant was taken and then it was back to the meeting room where a quick benchmark
was done and individual questions were answered by Toyota.
This is one in a series of Learning Sessions hosted by Toyota for the CenTex OpEx Consortium. The
next session (available only to members of the Consortium) will be on March 7, 2013 and will focus on Standard Work.
OpEx Solutions is an organization to help identify strategic areas
for improvement and provide effective high value low cost solutions, training, and project management to drive significant
productivity improvement through the use of operational excellence tools and systems in most manufacturing and service industries.
With a variety of offerings to choose from, we're
confident of working with your organization to find and define your own way through:
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact us.
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