Lean Doesn't Always Mean "5S First"

The other day, I wrote a post about an article I read by Bruce Hamilton on whether to start a lean program by using 5S.

Today, I noticed Jamie Flinchbaugh’s lean blog, in which he cites his comments on that Old Lean Guy, Hamilton’s article, and he offers his concept that lean is more of a roadmap than a recipe, and, to me, that is more or less true.  As Flinchbaugh adds:

There are some guidelines, some truisms, some rules-of-thumb. But there is no one set of answers that covers all organizations. All organizations are different. They are different mostly because they are made up of people, one of the most highly variable factors on this planet, but there are more reasons on top of that. Organizational change is too complex for recipes. If someone comes to you with a pre-packaged answer, I recommend running away.

Obviously, if you’re going lean, there is a destination, but, as Toyota proved when they were developing the TPS, innovation in the tools is as potent as using the hose same tools to achieve your final goals.

One Size Doesn’t Always Fits

From my experience working with folks just starting out, no one way is the right way.  Some people find it easier to ease into things by slowly, incrementally applying lean thinking to specific problem areas first, and accumulating its benefits, while others prefer to tackle the whole plant in one fell swoop. It’s as important to change the culture of the people involved as it is to implement changes.  Without their help and morale support, most changes slide back into the abyss.