About Lean History Today

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What does the term 'Lean', “Six Sigma” or even Continuous mean these days. The first 2 have become the most popular terminology for change in the New Millennium in today's corporate culture.

The creation of JIT Manufacturing is generally credited to Taiichi Ohno, a Toyota production executive, in an effort to reduce waste and improve quality. Shingo provided the knowledge from his work at Mitsubishi turn-around after World War II. The foundation for these improvement tools came from the US war-acts that was the catalyst for rebuilding the USA fleets, tanks and equipment after World War I and the act on Pearle Harbor act. The foundation for Toyota's success all started in the USA.

And today, Lean Management techniques and principles are quite widely used throughout the industry. You may have heard Japanese terms like Gemba, Kaizen’s, Kanban and Muda. This isn't a secret key to unlock the mysteries of Lean, they simply mean Learning to See, Continuous Improvement, Pull systems and Non value-added work. Japanese words have signaler meaning versus English words that can mean many different things to convey the ideas of Lean thinking.

But we are often asked how a process improvement technique established specifically for manufacturing can be adapted for white collar work like none manufacturing businesses such as work flows in sales, marketing, legal, financial/accounting, medical, hospitals, doctors/nurses, churches and you name can name any business or process. Every Process has a Flow and it can be seen by going to Gemba (actual observation of the process in question), creating a visual map of the process to identify where the waste is in the flow.

The truth is that 'Lean' is simply a way to reduce waste, but often consultants or management makes it difficult with complex methodologies. The M.A.R.I. Lean approach centers on first understanding if you a Discrete workflow (a process that is not required to run the batch from start to finish or allows work-in-process between workstations) or Process workflow (where the batch is made and used in completion. Each of these can be improved by following the 8 categories:

High Level Value Map to identify Constraints to the business.

Developing Charters and Ownership (leader and team) of Constraint to improve Customer Value by key segments of the Company or Business.

The following is a recommended lean tool’s for the horizontal workflow of Manufacturing or Business Processes.
1. Change Management overview to get Leadership and teams aligned to Why Change is needed.
2. 5S to touch all team members workflow not to clean up, but to gain efficiencies in what they do each day.
3. VSM to create a detailed (value stream mapping) in a simplified manor for all to identify which lean tools to apply.
4. Kanban/Pull System to create workflow controls such as inventory right sizing or reductions of cost.
5. Changeover/Setup Reduction to improve equipment or process availability to improve efficiencies.
6. Process Flow to reduce steps and time between operational processes.
7. Defect Prevention to reduce rework and scrap in the workflows or operations.
8. Process Time to reduce actual processing time of equipment or people.

The following is a recommended Six Sigma for the vertical workflow;
Any deep drive of a process to identify root causes or statistical validation of opportunities for improvements.

Why follow this Lean Your Way Approach? Because one of the most common issues that I see with organizations, is the amount of times I hear, "I don't know why we do that" or "we've always done it this way" or "lean/six sigma is to complex". Sometimes, it takes someone from the outside to teach how to see workflow processes in a new light to change the status quo of Lean. Consultants spend time observing your key processes to determine how many dollars they can bill the company and then claim success based on a small improvement. We begin by developing simple, customer-focused value stream process maps and work with your leadership and teams to develop a leaner, more efficient process that is sustainable long past our time with you.