Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What is Lean and Why Do I Care Parts 5, 6 +7

Q5. I thought Lean was about being Lean and mean, one less person?

Some companies have taken this approach, often called “business process re-engineering”, but typically, it doesn’t work out well.  Any productivity gains made disappear quickly as too few people in the company are engaged at a level to see it through to success.  Clever companies use Lean to improve capacity, shorten lead times and improve quality.  These changes are achieved by working collaboratively with staff to map and improve process, or to reorganize a work area to improve work flow.  The best companies revisit previous improvement efforts and look to find opportunities to make further improvements.

Q6. What has Lean got to offer fast growing small and medium companies?

Lots.  Virtually all fast growing Alberta companies share the same operational constraint - finding and keeping competent, qualified people.  To not make the best use of these people, or to have them work inefficiently, makes little sense.  Lean provides the thinking and tools for companies to minimize inefficiencies and enable processes and people to achieve more.  This, in turn, creates a less stressful, more empowered workplace, as well as a more a productive and profitable company.

Q7. If you were to recommend doing one “Lean” activity what would it be?

We would recommend a spaghetti map for a business process or product known to have problems.
A spaghetti map uses a drawing, or layout of the workplace, and would trace, for example, the physical path a purchase order takes through the company, as it travels between departments, from one desk or work station to the next.  A well plotted map will quickly show the amount of back and forth that happens, and where unnecessary steps and delays are visible in the process. One approach is to walk the process backwards, this way it’s possible to capture the actual route not the one that was supposed to happen.

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