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Recently I found an article from McKinsey about Lean -
Next frontiers for lean | McKinsey & Company

This article made my think more about Lean again.

Lean is since two years one of my 'hobbies' as I was involved in the Lean initiative at SAP. What I find fascinating is the approach to transfer Lean out of the 'car production' corner into other areas such as:

  • service
  • management

I am conviced that Lean is a great mindset. It requires to consider as top priority the needs of the customer. The main question is always: Would the customer be willing to pay for x/y/z? And what is the customer asking for?

In our industries, it is not always that easy to change production lines - a mine is not really asking about our needs of ore, but it has certain ore or not. A paper machine is built to last and not to be replaced in a short timeframe. So how can we translate Lean into industries that do not really seem to be the perfect fit?

Still some principles can always be applied.

  1. Support the work of the employees: As Manager, I should make sure that I do everything to enable my employees to do their work in the most efficient way. If their is equipment rather hindering the work - it is my task to change this.
  2. Setting standards: It seems so obvious, but in reality it is often not considered... What is the standard procedure to follow in case of x/y/z? Is it existing? Are people aware of it?
  3. Go Gemba - go to the shopfloor and see how the employees are working. On the one hand - you will see things that you find worth to change - and you are getting known to the employees, it may build trust between you and the employees. This fosters an atmosphere, where employees find it easier to propose own ideas of improvement.

My thoughts on this are certainly not complete - and I would love to hear back about your ideas. Are you working with Lean Principles in your area?