Top misconceptions of the Lean movement, according to Jim Womack | Financial Post

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“Misconception 1: ‘Lean is a cost-cutting exercise.’

Misconception 2: ‘It is about factories.’

Misconception 3: ‘Lean is a within-the-walls activity to fix your company.’

Misconception 4: ‘Lean is an improvement process production people can do — management doesn’t have to do anything.'”


Michel Baudin‘s insight:

I agree with points 1 and 4, but I have issues with 2 and 3. “The Machine that Changed the World” was a book about factories, and it was based on a worldwide benchmarking study of the car industry sponsored by the Sloan foundation.

Mission accomplishedLean is proven in Manufacturing, by the success of Toyota and a  few other manufacturing companies. That Lean is applicable outside of Manufacturing is possible, and plausible, but not proven. Even in Manufacturing, it is far too early to proclaim “mission accomplished,” as most attempted implementations in factories have yet to deliver the expected results.

As for expanding beyond the walls of your company into the supply chain, yes, you should do it but not before you have your own house in order. Toyota itself didn’t do it until the late 1970s.

Going to suppliers before you have  transformed your internal operations is not a recipe for success. Womack does not claim it is, but branding a focus on internal operations a “misconception” is an encouragement for managers to shift their focus to suppliers too early.

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