What seems to be lacking in most unsuccessful lean endeavors are what seem to be the key elements of a foundation for lean. Total employee involvement and management commitment. Some manufacturing executive have been heard to say they expected lean implementation to be fifty percent technical and fifty percent people, but the reality is ninety five percent people and only five percent technical. That’s right, the most important element in implementing lean is people. Your company is only as strong as your weakest employee it would appear.
The very first Lean Manufacturing Key Elements are, executive management must be committed to lean. If lean manufacturing is a grass roots effort, it will have limited success. This is because lean involves so much of the organization. It involves procurement, manufacturing, quality, sales, marketing, and human resources. Each of these organizations will need to participate in the transformation. Therefore, the executives must want it. They must believe that it will improve their bottom line. If they don’t, your lean manufacturing key elements will fail.
After management has committed to implementing lean, the next step in forming a foundation for lean is communicating this commitment to the entire organization. This often missing but critical step conveys the importance of the program to the employees. Company newsletters, e-mail, the internet, and any other such tools should be used, but the most important means of communication is having a company executive directly address the employees. The executive should explain what lean manufacturing key elements are and why the company is going to implement it, and what the next steps will be.
After the employees have been informed that this program is real and that the company is committed, the organization should begin scouting for team leaders. These are often the people that voluntarily seek to get involved in the program, the team leaders will help to train the rest of the organization. The organization should then find a change agent, often an external or in some cases internal consultant that can train the trainers and work collaboratively with management to move the program forward.
The final step in Lean Manufacturing Key Elements is planning a reward system. One common factor in successful lean organizations is a reward system for employees. The system must reward employees for suggesting and implementing useful ideas that eliminate waste in the organization, and the system must reward employees for sustaining lean throughout the organization.
After taking the Lean Manufacturing Key Elements step, an organization has an increased likelihood of initial and sustained success as a lean enterprise. Lean is not something that an industrial or manufacturing engineering group does to an organization; it is a cultural change. The importance of developing a foundation for this cultural change is critical to the success of any organization that begins a lean journey.
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