Lean manufacturing and principles have been around for years, so the ideas are not really new. However, the scope of lean and lean manufacturing principles have significantly shifted. Now, it is widely accepted beyond the factory floor and is expanding into hospitals, government agencies and service sectors. These trends are expected to continue as lean and lean manufacturing principles are put into places across a wide variety of businesses on a global scale. The problem becomes the long lasting success of new programs. Some experts estimate that the failure rate of lean implementations could be as high as 80%. Change is a difficult thing for organizations and sustaining that change can be problematic for most. For those enjoying the most success with lean and lean manufacturing principles, they have found that the main benefits are the effects it has on the people. Great people are the lifeblood of a successful lean organization because it is about keeping people first!
Keeping people first is all about changing the culture and that change starts with respect. Leaders have to be on board from the start. They have to actively engage in a way that demonstrates clearly they are engaged. Spending time with people is the best way to connect with each and every person in the organization. Listening is the key to this engagement. Manage by walking around, get to know the people and let them get to know you. Lean is about respect, and the best way to show it is by spending time together. You will find that the vast amount of people want to come to work and know they have some ownership and control over what they do. As these changes start to take hold in the organization, you will find that customer service reps take fewer angry calls, sales reps are having to explain problems less and less, and your shipping department is not rushing to complete their work at the end of the day. Simply, problems start working out over time and success becomes a real reward. We just have to keep in mind that lean and lean manufacturing principles take time. Leaders must have the focus, patience and determination to make changes over the long term. They must have a firm commitment to making sure people come first.
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