One of the principles of the lean approach is long term thinking with focus on adding value to our customers and society. We are taught to eliminate waste, things that don’t add value to the customer.
We improve flow, reduce set up time, improve productivity, eliminate waste and reduce cost. Kaizen events successful hit targets and employees are trained. 5-S activities are done daily, audits are conducted and our facilities look better. We create value stream maps and work hard to transform our company to our future state.
Somewhere in all this lean activity, our customer focus can be lost. We do all the things that we believe will make us leaner. But have we truly adding value to our customer? If not, why not?
Do our lean efforts hit the bottom line and stop there? Is our lean effort all about improving our margins? Is our lean effort all about head count reduction?
It is not enough to just eliminate waste and reduce cost. Our customers don’t care about our 5-S audit scores, the number of kaizen events we conduct, if we use ERP or Kanban, or the number of our inventory turns. Our lean efforts must add value to the customer. It must be seen and felt by our customers.
Bottom line: Are we giving our customers what they want, when they want it, at the highest quality and affordable cost? Is our lean system effort supporting this mission?