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Making Lean Work

(February 2007) posted on Sun Feb 25, 2007

Committing to lean manufacturing can be an intimidating proposition for those who aren't prepared for change. This article explains how implementing lean step-by-step can benefit print providers.

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By Les deHamer

Fear of the unknown is one of the major barriers to change. This fear can be diffused through open discussion and successful improvement events. Employees will go along with change more readily if they feel responsible for its implementation. Few people oppose something they helped develop. Employees' involvement in successful endeavors will motivate others in the facility to join the journey and begin to implement change on their own. Ask employees for their time, ideas, and suggestions to make certain that a positive environment for change is created. Change is best done through reasonable increments and initial successes. Let people be active participants and become responsible for the new way of doing things. Ten of the most important words that can be stated when it comes to change are if it is to be, it is up to me. Break down the change process into as many victories as possible without losing sight of the goal of maintaining a steady pace on the road to change and success.

We can see that to begin change, the persons who are asked to change must take ownership of that change. The best way to accomplish this is twofold. The first component is company leadership needs to lead by example and show support of the process (Figure 1). This is easily seen by bringing in new ideas along with the people who can guide the company on its journey. The second component is success. A past mentor of mine once shared with me a great analogy. When an African bushman who is staring at an elephant that is going to be his dinner was asked, “How are you going to eat all that?” the bushman replied, “One bite at a time!”


Impact assessment

Where should you start? You should start with something called a LeanSigma Impact Assessment. A trained consultant will visit your facility for one to two days and will use various tools and observational techniques to analyze your company's current state and way of doing work. This approach also allows you to ask the consultant what the cost is before you commit. Some of the methods used to gather the data needed for the impact assessment follow.


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