Those of you grew up with Sesame Street may recall that each episode was brought to you by a different letter of the alphabet. I experienced my own version of this phenomenon three years ago, when much of my job suddenly became all about the letter "S" - or more accurately five of them.
Many companies unintentionally have created departmental silos within their organizations. Information and products go back and forth between the different functional areas, but the customer is often missing from the process. When lean supply chain strategies, which focus on eliminating waste, are implemented, once again the customer is often times left out. Instead of focusing on the client, the company focuses internally to improve processes. Research shows that undertaking a lean supply chain journey that extends outside the four walls of the organization significantly improves the customer experience, company productivity and the bottom line. - Eric Lail, VP, Continuous Improvement and Client Services, Transportation Insight
This is one of the great barriers to lean implementation: Concepts of lean are both counterintuitive and counter-cultural. Hence, if you wish to be a lean leader, you must go back to the basics and make sure you have a clear understanding before you are able to teach others.
Many manufacturers that have applied lean concepts to their operations find that although they do achieve significant savings, their production costs remain high. This is, in most cases, attributable to material costs, which, depending on industry can range from 60 to 80 percent of total production costs. The challenge for these manufacturers is to discover how to extend lean concepts and practices beyond the walls of their own factories.
Legendary lean practitioner Art Byrne says he didn't have to accept excuses from employees when he requested dramatic improvements on the plant floor. That's because Byrne had become a "lean expert" and knew what type of changes were possible. There's a big difference between CEOs who engage in lean and those who simply encourage it.