Lean on me

Posted on 31 May 2012

In this new regular column, Roberto Priolo, editor of TM's sister publication Lean Management Journal, shares a sneak peek into the next issue of LMJ and looks back at the best content in the previous edition.

Ask anyone in the lean community, from line managers to CEOs, from ‘tool heads’ to lean champions, what the most important element in any business transformation process is and chances are the answer you will get from most of them is “people”.

Still, an enormous number of continuous improvement programmes fail. Sometimes it’s the difficulty to get people involved when the implementation is in its infancy. Other times it’s the issues related with sustaining your lean efforts by keeping workforce engaged.

Why don’t we talk to our people more, to try and understand what lean and continuous improvement really mean to them? – Roberto Priolo, editor, Lean Management Journal

Either way, people can be the main driver of change or its worst enemy. Then why don’t we talk to our people more, to try and understand what lean and continuous improvement really means to them?

The July/August issue of Lean Management Journal will focus on people, trying to offer a view from the shop floor to help companies understand how their employees interpret and feel about the everyday issues they encounter and the policies deployed to solve them.

You will be able to read contributions from line operators working on the shop floor. The issue will also explore something that some see as the future of business, self management (some refer to it as “lean on steroids”). In our regular international feature we will look at how Danish technical wholesaler Solar is rolling out its lean programme in its facilities around Europe, with a particular focus on how differences in culture impact on the implementation process.

Looking Back

If I had to pick four of the best articles in the June issue of LMJ, which was themed on lean services, these would be my highlights:

Innovation: take the time, make the effort: Craig Squire’s article on value engineering is an interesting introduction to a methodology that encourages a company to focus on the core function of the product or service it provides, while providing a platform to optimise the use of resources.

America the Lean: LMJ’s special on lean in the United States provides inspiring case studies on business turnaround and companies achieving what many would have thought impossible.

Services: lessons from Toyota: This article concentrates on how Toyota applied its experience in manufacturing and the principles developed in its factories to its Japanese dealership service.

Bringing order to chaos Drew Locher discusses the importance of standards in an office environment.

The journal will visit companies in Hungary, finding that in this country, less mature than others from a continuous improvement standpoint, the most important advocates of lean are subsidiaries of large international corporations with local operations in Eastern Europe (from GKN Driveline to IBM, Timken and car rental companies Avis/Budget).

In a further attempt to help readers to learn from direct experience, LMJ will run another episode of its Lean Diary series, which follows the progress of a Serbian manufacturer, SCGM, in deploying its continuous improvement programme. Every month, the company shares with LMJ the most recent development in its transformation, providing examples of problem solving exercises, kaizen events and identifying the main results of its efforts to improve.