I have spent the last year and a half as a founding member of the Morey Lean Implementation Team, or LIT. The charter for this team was to gather a group of mid-level key performers from multiple disciplines, educate them in Lean and where the company is headed, and then utilizes them to help spread lean concepts throughout the company.
Over the last year, we have gone from starting on one focus, 5S, to branching out into multiple directions that we review in quarterly segments. We have focused to date on education, waste elimination, and standardization. We have finished creating a curriculum to launch to the whole company and have already logged a good amount of efficiency improvements and cost savings in 2010. Having people from multiple departments and disciplines allows us to utilize everyone’s talents. Some are good teachers, others are good at leading an improvement team, and others are good the “marketing” of lean.
Like most lean implementations, we’ve had successes and failures, accomplishments and setbacks. While the team is bought in to where we are going with lean, that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone else is bought in. We can’t discount that there are people that are excited and want to know more, but at the same time, there are people that are afraid of the unknown and prefer to keep their heads in the sand. Our job is to show the value. Show it in data, show it in dollars, and show it in saved time. No one is going to be against making their lives easier.
We’ve learned that, in showing the value of lean, we need to take on a servant role and really help people through things, if not do it for them. This is not an implementation that lends itself to firing off tasks at subordinates and expecting them to figure it out. It involves a “go and see” mentality, a lot of “extra credit” work, and an amount of patience that normally is not reflected in today’s hectic environment.
We just had our meeting to discuss our goals for the next quarter and I’m very excited about the direction we’re going. We’re chasing standardized work, “leaning” of three major processes, a large dollar amount worth of savings, and education of one-third of our office staff through our complete Lean curriculum. Slowly but surely we are making progress to a wholly lean company. Sometimes not as fast as we’d like, but we’ll continue to serve on this team until we get there.
David Seifrid is currently Director of Strategic Accounts at The Morey Corporation.