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Lean Manufacturing

Industrial Engineer ~ April 2011, 44(4), pgs. 35-40 ~ Being lean is not just for large corporations, small business can benefit greatly from lean practices as well.  Mehta, an Associate Professor at East Caroline University and a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, reports that many managers don’t use lean ideas because it’s too much effort to keep track of efficiency on a continual basis of the many processes.  Research shows that if we put forth a little effort by following some of the basic principles, we can benefit from a lean process.  Consider some of these simple suggestions:

  1. Value every moment of every employee.  Until we can effectively maintain the core process by knowing how each employee uses their time, can we really satisfy the paying customer.
  2. Only charge customers for value provided.  Eliminate time spent on activities that do not directly contribute to the customers needs.
  3. Teamwork satisfies the customer. Even though we know this basic concept, managers still tend to expect teamwork to be a norm when really a team culture isn’t the reality.
  4. Increase communications and transparency.  To achieve this, management needs to make employees know they are part of the core team and make them privy to what is happening in the ranks, tell them!
  5. No one wants to go to a ball game that doesn’t keep score.  Motivation and enthusiasm can be maintained if employees know how well they’re doing and how they have contributed to the company.
  6. Make it visual and keep it current.  Mehta argues that, albeit simplistic, charts and other visual means do help motivate and achieve tangible results if utilized routinely and creatively.
  7. A clean and well-organized workplace.  Time is often waisted when employees have to search for tools and supplies not counting the adverse effect on quality, productivity and morale.
  8. Standardize all that can be standardized.  To establish a baseline for process improvement and quality, Mehta reminds us that there must first be a standard way of doing the same thing over and over.
  9. Leadership cannot be delegated.  Managers must first understand the potential of lean concepts and participate by getting involved in the hands-on process in order to be more productive and profitable.


Team Development

Emotional and Social Intelligence

Performance Improvement

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