This blog will probably differ from every other Lean, Continuous improvement or Operational excellence literature you’ve ever read as it doesn’t hide from the truth.
Lean manufacturing is not sticking pretty pictures and graphs on a wall and having people fill them with green and red ink then convincing yourselves this means you are now lean.
If done properly is its so much more and so much harder than that.
Let’s get things cleared up from the beginning
If you think you’re doing any of the above listed job roles and you think it’s easy or should be easy then your either not doing it right or actually have no idea what your letting yourself in for.
So you might have been to a number of courses which teach you the basics or maybe even advanced tools that you can use to incorporate lean into your workplace. The lecturers might have blown you away with the experience they’ve had in the discipline by reeling off situations they’ve found themselves in.
So now you’re sucked in they’ve sold you completely you’re going to go into workplace as soon as the course is finished and incorporate everything you’ve been taught.
But you get into your workplace and after a matter of days you are completely disheartened as you’re facing at least one of the following issues.
A hostile workforce
Why wouldn’t they be hostile? You’re going in there with the sole aim of saving money. No matter which way you cut it the best way to do this is to reduce labour hours.
Lack of support from management
Ok so maybe your management isn’t fully bought in. there’s many reasons why this can happen. One I often find is they’ve been through this in the past and had no real success.
But it could be they are from a shop floor background and want to retain as many staff as possible Or They are just too busy with things that must be far more important. This is often due to them attending far more meetings than is practical/useful or spending their days firefighting issues.
Anyhow why would management want to change things the place is doing just fine?
Lack of resource and time
Well this is really building on the previous issue. You’ve been given no additional time to do the task. This occurs when you’re not a full time Lean engineer and have been asked to do this as additional work around your day job. There’s nothing wrong with this other than management haven’t reduced the amount of work in your everyday day job to accommodate it.
There’s no money to spend even if you find potential quick wins. Why? Because your management aren’t really bought into this. Why would they give you money to spend when they could spend it on much more important things such as overtime for the shop floor staff?
You implement some great changes and are really proud of what you have achieved. You’ve finished your project and go back to your day job or move to another project. A few weeks/months later you pay a visit to the place you made such great gains but shock horror everything has gone back to how it was before.
So should you give up?
The answer is definitely no! What you need to understand is the above issues will definitely happen. If you work in this field you will encounter every single one of them on a daily basis. You will face hostility and find yourself completely frustrated wondering where the Job satisfaction is in this role.
If you’re finding it hard then you’re probably on the right track, your hitting the right buttons and are pushing the right boundaries. All we need to is focus you’re attention on battles you can win until you’ve built such an army of followers that you can take on any battle and have the enemy wave the white flag before you arrive. It’s been described in the past as a virus spreading. Its starts small but grows exponentially. The difference you should find to a virus is leadership in your workplace will eventually come to you begging for it.
I will guide you through what I’ve learnt over the years, things I do to ensure I’m making a difference and mistakes I’ve made. I will post every week and will also provide you with tools and templates I’ve used and adapted.
By the way I love feedback and love to hear stories and examples of great work and issues other people have experienced