In earlier articles, I described the important foundation that must be established before any company can systematically eliminate waste and create customer value using lean manufacturing methods. This month, we take the next important step in the process: Planning and Implementation.
Lean Transformation Planning
• Once lean champions have been trained, they should move quickly into lean implementation activities, starting with the development of a lean transformation plan for their respective facilities, value-streams, and key processes.
• Facility-specific processes are often identified to be the focus of initial lean implementation activities, which usually involve the creation of Value Stream Maps (VSM) and conduct of follow-on Kaizen improvement events to make changes to a work area or product line.
• Appropriate planning ensures employees are able to effectively implement the improvements without disrupting ongoing work activities. At the same time, the pace of implementation needs to be rapid enough so employees see it working and generating measurable results.
• The plan needs to include foundational training (as described in Phase II) for employees prior to their participation in VSM and Kaizen events.
Kaizen Events and VSM Implementation
• Initially, VSM development and Kaizen events should be facilitated by experienced lean implementers. Certified lean champions often participate as event team leaders.
• VSM and Kaizen events should include three to four hours of concept training to prepare participants for their roles in the lean implementation process.
• Each Kaizen typically includes 6 to 10 employees from operational areas that touch the process or problem in question.
• With experience, lean champions often become co-facilitators while they’re being “mentored” by an experienced lean implementer. In a short time they’ll be ready to take over facilitation without the need for continued lean implementer support or mentoring.
Additional Training and Support
• Other areas of training that may be needed include administrative process Value Stream Mapping and related Kaizen event facilitation, lean accounting, and value engineering.
• The company’s information and accounting systems may need to be adapted to support lean implementation, impact tracking, and performance measurement.
Lean transformation, a strategic, enterprise-wide approach, reaches far beyond point solutions, with significantly more powerful results. The development of a lean enterprise requires a company-wide commitment to continuous improvement throughout the entire organization. It involves a cultural change that gets everyone thinking and acting lean. And it involves planning, or creating a roadmap to guide the company on its lean journey. IBI