These days you may be hearing a lot talk regarding “going lean” and “implementing lean practices,” what does this truly mean? When a company implements lean practices they are essentially looking at all areas within the company, evaluating processes, searching for new ways to streamline and improve current processes, all while striving to create a better and more efficient product or service. Even though the implementation of lean practices is a significant undertaking it is well worth the effort with added benefits in production, efficiency, and cost savings.
What is involved in going lean?
In order to fully embrace the lean mindset and proven lean concepts, there must be adequate support from upper management as well as a guided force of leadership towards lean concepts. It is a fact that business enterprises who try to implement lean tactics without dedicated commitment from management often fail when attempting to implement lean. In addition, there also needs to be a willingness to change from all staff in general, since many things will change and some changes may be dramatic. However, even though there will be change, employees still need to feel valued and that their ideas and thoughts matter in the grand scheme of things. It is also important to remember that mistakes will be made along the journey towards lean, but having a tolerance to learn from mistakes and well as an understanding that mistakes are just a part of learning curve is essential towards further development. Lastly, going lean is truly an ongoing process; it requires consistent monitoring to ensure that progress is always taking place so opportunities for further improvement are not overlooked.
Tips to Get Started
First off, once a business has decided to implement lean practices and a commitment has been made, improvement objectives should be established so there are clear goals in place. Next, processes should be evaluated and analyzed for possible improvement or reorganization and plans should be devised to correct or improve uncovered flaws. After plans have been developed, they should be shared with all employees and put into action. It is at this point when possible hiccups or inconsistencies with the plans may become visible, so fine tuning and consistent monitoring must take place in order to ensure best practice and efficiency.
Going Lean with the Help of 5S
When first getting started in the lean journey, many companies explore the many benefits involved with 5S tactics. 5S is a practice that originated in Japan, but has now become a leading worldwide practice in organizing a productive and lean work environment. 5S involves 5 components: sorting, set in order, systematic cleaning, standardizing, and sustaining. When implementing 5S as a helpful tool in going lean, it is important to educate all employees on the standards involved within the 5S practice so everyone is cohesively working towards a common goal. Some helpful lean products involved in 5S include organizing tools in foam tool organizers so tools are not misplaced, posting safety signs so employees’ health and safety awareness is maximized, and utilizing floor tapes to organize floor space and set clear aisle pathways. If you are seriously considering going lean, the added benefits of 5S can really help set the stage for success.