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A recent report from AlixPartners posited a surprising finding in the field of continuous improvement (CI) programs for manufacturers: Most companies engaged in Lean, Sigma Six, or another toolkit are achieving a poor return on their investment, and appear to be only partially engaged in the process itself. Considering that the entire purpose of a CI program is to reduce costs, a lax ROI is one of the last results one might expect to find, but after speaking with Steve Maurer, head of the Manufacturing Practice at AlixPartners, it's clear that these disappointing numbers are not a failure of continuous improvement, but rather skewed perceptions and flawed applications.
Many manufacturers, particularly those who are achieving sub-par returns, have an idea that continuous improvement is simply a philosophy change, and not a capital investment, and are applying tools that aren't exactly suitable for their particular operations. Maurer hopes that this survey will help serve as a wake-up call to manufacturers who simply blanket their processes with continuous improvement philosophies without real engagement.
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