Family business is slow to take up the advantages of "Lean Thinking"


"Lean manufacturing" is a often spoken about as an effective way to become a lowest cost producer and in smart companies "lean thinking" is a way of life and a pervasive culture across the whole company. I have been involved with a couple of manufacturers who have saved many thousands of dollars by adopting a "lean thinking attitude" In one engineering business we saved $550,000 in the second year of embracing lean and that was only on the shop floor. In another we identified the potential to save $400,000 a year just by adopting the 7 wastes principles however the business owners could not get his head around the concept and stopped it going ahead.

 In most smaller family owned companies the greatest success I have seen is where they adopt the "lean thinking " process in small steps over a longer period of time. They take time to educate the workforce and start a small pilot , usually with 5S and get that right first. This enables employees to see it, feel it and understand it. When employees see the benefits and how it can improve work flow and make work easier for everyone they will get on board and want to be involved.

Don't scare everyone by bringing in a team of lean consultants who start off by talking in a language that they only they understand. Find someone who can win the hearts and minds, is not opinionated, believes in the power of engagement  and is able to show whats in it for the employee. someone who understands that it is along term process. 

 I read an article regarding lean recently where they quoted Albert Einstein " the world we have created is a product of our thinking : it cannot be changed without changing our thinking."




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