Leading an organization through a Lean manufacturing implementation is no easy feat. Every manufacturer has its own challenges. Whether it is the culture within the business, the state of the industry, customers, or anything in between, accomplishing this task has created frustration in many manufacturing organizations.

The fact of the matter is that this management philosophy has been around for decades, yet there are many manufacturers that fail to benefit from its principles. Seldom is it because of lack of trying, more commonly it is because they are missing certain elements.

Most manufacturers have enormous opportunities to reduce waste in their business, however few ever reach their improvement potential. Consider the fact that in most manufacturing businesses the time it takes to process an order from request to delivery is typically spent on non-value-added activities (95%) and minimally on the value-added activities (5%).


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The potential for cost and working capital reduction and increased responsiveness is tremendous, and the list of benefits goes on. The question remains for many: Why is it so difficult to successfully implement Lean manufacturing in your business?

Read 10 Reasons Why Lean Manufacturing Transformations Fail and you will realize that failure has more to do with the organization’s lack of commitment than anything else. Here are six elements to help lead a successful Lean manufacturing implementation:

1. Leadership Support – When I say leadership, I mean the people at the very top of the organization. Starting with the senior leader; this typically is the Owner, President, General Manager, and CEO (depending on the size of the organization). Accountability for the success of the initiative should reside at the top of the organization.

2. Steering committee – The senior leader should form a group of leaders whose purpose is to make business level decisions.  These will be the people that set the expectation and provide direction, support, and follow up on the adoption of the principles. The steering committee will guide the process of incorporating Lean into the business.

3. Strategy Deployment Process – The steering committee will use the strategy deployment process to identify the long-term business results, and the strategies and initiatives that will deliver those results. The strategy deployment used by a Lean organization ensures these plans are cascaded down through your entire organization as opposed to remaining visible only to the leadership team, which is quite common. Read our blog to learn how the strategy deployment process used by Lean organizations can help you improve your manufacturing business.

We started with these three as they are more strategic in nature. We will share the remaining elements next week.

If you want to ensure a successful Lean implementation, and you would like to discuss your specific goals please schedule a call.

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