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The Lean Benchmark Report

    • a.

      Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others.

    • b.

      Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s phi- losophy.

    • c.

      Respect your extended network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve.

  • IV.

    Continuously solving root problems drives organizational learning.

    • a.

      Go and see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation (genchi genbutsu).

    • b.

      Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly.

    • c.

      Become a learning organization through the relentless reflection (hansei) and continuous improvement (Kaizen).

A long-term view and executive leadership are two very key ingredients. According to TPS principles, Lean leadership skills require not only an in-depth understanding of the work but also the ability to develop, mentor, and lead people. Leaders should be re- spected for their technical knowledge and possess excellent leadership skills. Lean lead- ers don’t give orders but lead and mentor through questioning. Culturally, many of the leadership principles espoused in The Toyota Way are at odds with the managerial and facilitator skills taught at traditional U.S. MBA programs. This will be discussed in more detail in Chapter 3.

Lean Adoption Challenges

For any manufacturer, transitioning from a traditional to a Lean manufacturing environ- ment is a major change for many reasons. For instance, to improve customer order deliv- ery times, many companies are moving from a make-to-order to an assemble-to-order environment, often causing bills of material to be “flattened” and work processes to be “postponed” until the customer order is received. Since the orders are now being “pulled” from the customer, workcell teams responsible for these final processes may no longer have a backlog of tasks and may actually be waiting for orders to initiate the process; seasoned operators are often uncomfortable in this environment at first.

This very simplistic example characterizes a portion of the 82% of respondents who cited significant culture change as the top adoption challenge, shown in Figure 2. In addition to “postponing” final processes and potentially asking operators to hold off on production until the order arrives, employees also should accept responsibility for continuously look- ing for opportunities to make improvements (Kaizen) by formally submitting ideas for consideration. Many better performing companies have idea management programs in place to encourage participation and are measured on the number of implemented im- provements per employee (12-24 might be considered a reasonable goal for year one).

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