A recent poll conducted by Manuficient Consulting suggested that a “Lack of Leadership Buy-in and Commitment” was the #1 reason (38%) why Lean Implementations Struggle in America followed by an “Underdeveloped Workforce” at 28% and “Lack of Lean Expertise” at 11%. Click here for details on the poll’s results. What does this say about the state of manufacturing in America – or even American culture at large?
Lean Manufacturing grew up in Japan, where there are significant cultural differences that makes Japanese manufacturers more susceptible to a successful Lean implementation. In fact, at Toyota, its not even considered an implementation, but the way business is done. It is a very deliberate and systematic way of doing business. There is one predominant characteristic that any company (or person/entity) must possess in order to do anything deliberately and systematically. That quality is discipline. Discipline, as explained by Jim Collins and Morten Hansen is one of the three traits of 10X’ers in the book, “Great by Choice“. The other two traits being empirical creativity and productive paranoia according to the book.
A Lean Implementation, just like any other Continuous Improvement initiative, requires a tremendous degree of discipline. This is the trait that is more ingrained in Japanese culture than in American. In Japan, its common for a child to select or be designated a career path at a very young age and never stray throughout life. Its normal for people to work for one company for their entire professional career. In contrast, these patterns are typically not a part of the American experience. Consequently, many American people and companies don’t develop the amount of discipline needed for a sustainable Lean or CI implementation.
Okay, so the title – “How is Your Bottom-Up Lean Implementation Going?”. Sometimes leaders expect Lean to “catch on” among the people at the lowest levels in the organization. They say they’ll engage once they see the people on the plant floor buying into it. Lean is a system that works from a base of strong discipline. As any effective business leader knows, discipline most often forms from the top down. It’s unwise to expect the people on the lower rungs of the organization to discipline themselves, especially in America. As mentioned in the book “Great by Choice”, discipline is not just action taken to correct bad behaviors, it is unwavering consistency of behavior, usually founded in a solid set of values and fundamentals. Any company that finds itself in a position where they feel they need to implement Lean should first seek to increase organizational discipline. Once this discipline is established, Lean or any other CI initiative becomes a lot easier to implement and sustain.
This is the premise of the fOS Methodology, which is designed to drive organizational discipline. It provides a systematic approach to monitoring and managing manufacturing performance in such a way to achieve World-Class Execution. You can click here get a copy of the fOS booklet from my Excelville Profile.
A manufacturing efficiency expert such as those at Manuficient can help you identify opportunities within your manufacturing organization to increase organizational discipline and help drive sustainable improvements.
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