Lean Beyond the Factory Floor

Spreading the lean tonic [the broken link was removed]:

One problem, says Michele Bonfiglioli, chief executive of Italian manufacturing consultancy firm Bonfiglioli Consulting, is that many manufacturers have a ‘blind spot’ when it comes to understanding just how non-lean and inefficient their administrative functions are. “Manufacturing is full of metrics: takt times, OEE and a host of others – but no one measures what goes on in the offices,” he observes.

The focus on the whole organization is increasing moving to the forefront of discussions. While there are still huge gains to be made using lean manufacturing, the success of many efforts is leading to expanding the scope beyond the more limited early efforts. To me this is a consistent pattern.

Experts (in TQM, Deming’s idea’s, Six Sigma, BPR, Lean…) always stress the importance of involving not just others (when talking to management) but your (managers) work too. But pretty consistently management adopts new management ideas much more for others than they do themselves. And over time the talk of going beyond “factory floor” improvements becomes more common.

Fast Cycle Change in Knowledge-Based Organizations by Ian Hau and Ford Calhoun, Jun 1997 is a good example of lean thinking, eliminating waste… outside the factory floor. This is also an example of the reports I mentioned in the comments on the Kaizen research post from the Center for Quality and Productivity Improvement at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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