New Study Finds That Lean Works Best When Embraced by the Entire Company

Acknowledging that lean manufacturing processes have revolutionized how best-in-class companies deliver products to their customers and manage their supplier relationships, a new study by the AberdeenGroup also found “a large performance gap” between organizations that limit lean techniques to shop floors versus those that cultivate lean thinking throughout their organizations.

The best practitioners of lean concepts exhibit three common characteristics, according to The Lean Benchmark Report: Closing the Reality Gap:

  • The companies dedicate themselves to lean basics, including process streamlining, building well-ordered production environments, and establishing continuous improvement programs.
  • They use a technology infrastructure to promote lean techniques and create a “a single version of the truth”
  • Best-in-class firms successfully achieve buy-in to lean philosophies from a wide range of staff members, from senior managers to those on the manufacturing line.

Technology is helping these firms become more competitive by offering tools for continually measuring, monitoring, and responding to important performance metrics, the report said

Finally, the report offers advice on how companies that haven’t reached best-in-class status can improve their lean implementations:

  • Map the resources needed to deliver specific products to specific customers and identify waste. Then focus on eliminating those problem areas.
  • Improve the work environment with “the 5S’s” (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain).
  • Track key metrics such as yield, throughput, and quality before and after a lean pilot project goes online. They identify additional lean opportunities in those operations.
  • The payoff for achieving these characteristics is high, the report adds. Eight percent of the best-in-class companies say lean strategies met or exceeded their performance expectations in customer-service and supply-chain flexibility.

This article was original published in the Oracle Lean Manufacturing newsletter, October 2006.

Kevin Creel

Kevin Creel | Key Contributor

Kevin Creel is a co-founder of Inspirage and currently serves as President, Strategy and Business Development. Mr. Creel leads the global business strategy and development organizations at Inspirage. He is a recognized subject matter expert for supply chain management business process and system design. Kevin frequently presents at industry and analyst events on subjects such as cloud supply chain systems. Prior to founding Inspirage, Kevin worked for Oracle Corporation as a product manager leading supply chain systems design with a focus on high tech and configure to order products. In this design role he acted as a “voice for the customer” leveraging his 15+ years of experience in business leadership and system engineering roles in the high tech and semiconductor industries. In 2008, Kevin was recognized by the Oracle Technical Network as an Oracle ACE for his thought leadership and educational contributions within the Oracle professional and user community.