Lean initiative cycle in the correct logical order

The lean start-up method is now being taught at more than 25 universities and through a popular online course at . In addition, in almost every city around world, you’ll find organizations like Startup Weekend introducing the lean method to hundreds of prospective entrepreneurs at a time. At such gatherings a roomful of start-up teams can cycle through half a dozen potential product ideas in a matter of hours. Although it sounds incredible to people who haven’t been to one, at these events some businesses are formed on a Friday evening and are generating actual revenue by Sunday afternoon.

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The specific implementation plan should be developed from the facility analysis. The analysis identifies areas of opportunity in every area of the business, including sales, service, engineering, maintenance, production, quality, shipping and administrative functions.

Some lean manufacturing projects within a lean initiative require the tools of Six Sigma to find the improvement answers. The lean manufacturing team needs to be trained to understand when the lean tools must be supplemented to either solve the problem or maximize the improvement.

Kaizen events may use all of the lean tools (and some Six Sigma tools) to meet the team's objective. Kaizen events are conducted on an ongoing basis to achieve a state of “lean”. For example, a process may need a quick throughput improvement. The kaizen blitz could include focused SMED and OEE analysis. The kaizen might have an objective to reduce setup time from 80 minutes to 60 minutes in four days.

It is important to keep an enterprise view with the analysis and road map. No single operation should be improved at the expense of the entire system. For example, if a bottleneck is happening at Process B, improving Process A prior to B only hurts the system worse. A larger-scale example is improving throughput if shipping cannot handle the volume. Although many improvements cause bottlenecks elsewhere, forcing a larger known problem is rarely a good idea.

The road map above is only one example. It could be shown with many different variations. However, there is a logical sequence to many of the tools. Value stream mapping is almost always conducted very early on in the process. The 5-S system provides a foundation for most other tools. TPM is large and plays an important role in OEE improvement and, therefore, must be started early.

The key is to have a plan and get started. The path to lean will not be straight and it never ends. Don't let the pursuit of perfection get in the way of being “better” today.

Both direct and indirect methods of communication should include mechanisms to encourage two-way sharing of information.   All staff members should be given multiple opportunities to share concerns and ask questions.  The more people know about the change itself and the more they are involved in the change process, the less likely they will be to resist the change and/or act as internal saboteurs.   In addition to allowing people to ask questions, responding in a timely manner with answers to the questions and concerns raised should be a top priority for leaders, managers, and project team members.

Lean initiative cycle in the correct logical order

lean initiative cycle in the correct logical order

Both direct and indirect methods of communication should include mechanisms to encourage two-way sharing of information.   All staff members should be given multiple opportunities to share concerns and ask questions.  The more people know about the change itself and the more they are involved in the change process, the less likely they will be to resist the change and/or act as internal saboteurs.   In addition to allowing people to ask questions, responding in a timely manner with answers to the questions and concerns raised should be a top priority for leaders, managers, and project team members.

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