Sunday, September 20, 2015

LEAN: Fix It Forever!

Today's post is from Herman Reiss, a friend of mine for over 30 years and Owner of FXR Technologies (Wake Forest, NC). 

We all know Lean is about removing waste (time, delays, inventory etc). You can employ a multitude of tools in your efforts, and with hard work achieve respectable results. But, will your improvements stand the test of time, or will things revert back to the way they used to be? How wasteful is it to fix the same issue more than once? Is there a way to fix things permanently?

Think back a decade or so ago. At that point, if you locked your keys in your car, out came the coat hanger or “slim jim” that is if you had access to one of these tools. Then, you needed the skill to use them. Don’t ask me why, but I seemed to be pretty good with the coat hanger. Once you got into your car, you vowed to keep an extra key in your wallet or purse. You might even have thought about investing in a magnetic “Hide a Key” holder. Maybe you followed through with the extra key, maybe not. Overall, the problem never went away for most people until an “engineered" solution was implemented in the form of the electronic key. Your car senses that the key is in the car, and will not allow you to lock it. 

Problem. Solved. Permanently!

Luckily, many wastes at your company can be eliminated with a permanent “Engineered” solution. Can a tool be implemented so there is only one way (the right way) to do something? Can a software program be changed that doesn’t allow you to skip a critical step in the process? Better yet, can your company design products (or services) that permanently solve problems for your customers? Talk about a way to differentiate yourselves from your competition. And yes, this requires lean thinking to be active in places other than the manufacturing floor. Places like meeting rooms and labs. At informal meetings, department meetings and company meetings. 

Use your Lean tools to the Max! Ask all the Why questions. More importantly, don’t forget to ask the Why Not questions.

Lean is definitely way bigger than some tools to remove waste!!

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