When you hear the word “lean”, most people immediately think of going on a “diet”. Say “lean” to my husband and he thinks I’m asking him to give up his beloved pizza. However, I’m not.
When I use the term “lean” I’m really asking him to take a more holistic view and while there may be room to “give up” a slice or two, there may be other variables that would bring about a more effective change to his well-being.
In a manufacturing environment, going lean is a complete philosophical approach and means looking at the whole. Lean should apply to all of your processes and all businesses.
Lean eliminates the “ 7 wastes” from the work flow – whether you are stocking shelves in a supermarket, closing the monthly books in finance, processing shipments, production on the shop floor or communicating the engineering direction.
A finance person recently explained to me that lean in their world represented three things: timely information, accurate information, and actionable information. That really resonated with me.
In our manufacturing world, focusing on timely, accurate and actionable information would make a huge difference.
- Timely (7 wastes: waiting, overproduction)
Just like on-time parts delivery, on-time information ensures work flow continuity. Getting it too soon, it can get lost or be OBE (overcome by events). Getting it too late, bad decisions may have been made.
- Accurate (7 wastes: defects)
Measure twice, cut once isn’t just a saying. Think about it. Rushing just to hit a deadline is pointless if the information is flawed. You were “on time” but you were “on time” with bad data. Are congrats really in order? Make sure you include enough time in your schedule to double check.
- Actionable (7 wastes: inventory, overproduction, over processing)
We swim in a world of data. Lots and lots of data. We don’t necessarily need more data but more effective data. Data that we can use. Meaning, we need to spend more time asking the better question so we get better metrics. Take time to ensure what you have spent hours creating is something someone can use, make a decision with, or clearly communicates eliminating questions.
In the end, you may not have to get rid of pizza, but rather you need to understand how that pizza fits into your overall lean scheme.