Lean and increasing sales | Bodo Wiegand

The following is a translation of the latest installment in Wiegand’s Watch:

Bodo WiegandAnd what is always forgotten…

In almost every company I see, I find Lean Enthusiasts who want to introduce Lean and  the mindset of their colleagues – preferably by yesterday, but no later than immediately. That this should take 2 – 3 years and not without sweat and hard work, appears barely acceptable.

But what is forgotten almost all Lean projects, is the answer to the question: “What do we do with the increased efficiency, what we do with the capacity that is freed up?”

Do we fire employees? As the most obvious alternative, do we start at the same time a sales compaign?  Why not?

I have found that, in steady state,  Sales always sells just as much as they think can be produced, never more, as it would frustrate customers , and usually less,because you never know what Production will put out next.

This week, we have performed a setup time reduction seminar. The bottleneck machine was a cold press, which took 2.5 hours to set up and then produced for 15 minutes. We put the set-up under a magnifying glass during the seminar and reduced the set-up time to 30 minutes, so that the capacity will be tripled in half a year. The subsequent operations Rotate and Roll work 5 days in 2 shifts. By goint 24×7 and other improvements we could double the capacity of the entire plant.

When, before starting the actual project, we discuss it in a leadership workshop and I demand a parallel initiative from Sales, I often get the following answer: “First do it, we really don’t know what will actually be accomplished” – but then it is too late.

If you do not involve Sales in your project, you put your colleagues’ jobs in jeopardy.

So please do not forget it.

The author, Bodo Wiegand, runs the Lean Management Institute, the German LEI affiliate, and blogs at Wiegands Warte (Wiegand’s Watch).