Lean Is For Everyone
Lean started out being applied to manufacturing. However, we are finding the real areas of waste are everywhere. There is a need to move forward in the reduction of time,space, human effort, equipment, and materials. Lean is a strategy that is the organization-wide change process. Lean tools are used by empowered, enthusiastic employees to eliminate waste and delight customers.
It is an existence of a "kaizen culture," which is continuous incremental improvement. Kai means change and Zen means to become good. Hence it is good to change.
The one thing everyone must learn is perfect is the enemy of best. In lean, we attempt to constantly make things better. However, we do not try to make them perfect. It takes too long to make things perfect and we miss many opportunities. We do not take shortcuts that would put anyone or anything in jeopardy. Can you name anything that is perfect?
The first process problems we tackled were our system of sending print and production packages to the factory floor and our process of issuing purchase orders. We had four people on each team. They took the day of training which covered what lean is all about, flow charting, the various tools, and how to complete a project in two days. Each team mapped out the existing process and started in on improving it by eliminating waste. Waste comes in many forms but is basically items that are not needed or non-value added. The teams came up with excellent new processes and saved money in the process.
We will be continuing the training and taking on new processes with all employees this year. The rally cry is "The waste that people see is often insignificant by comparison with what they do not see."