Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Batesville Casket Winner 2009 Assembly Plant of the Year

It was announced today that our Manchester, Tennessee facility has been awarded the “2009 Plant of the Year” by ASSEMBLY magazine and The Boston Consulting Group. Our Manchester Team has been very successful in applying and sustaining the lean approach on a daily basis. We pause to celebrate this honor within our entire organization and then it’s back to kaizen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Check out the link for a cool blog site, Unclutterer, dedicated to getting and staying organized. Plenty of information for both work and at home. The staff of writers led by their Editor-in-Chief, Erin Doland, provide some great organizational ideas in the spirit of 5S.

Lean Horse Race

Most companies want to get results fast. There is a strong push to get results quickly or more importantly to impact the bottom line immediately. If the results are not achieved quickly, we may rush into actions to get the results. This more than likely includes reorganizing, moving people around or taking short cuts like layoffs for quick impact. Other commonly used tactics for getting quick results include plant shutdowns, outsourcing, budget slashing (travel, training, R&D, etc), playing cash flow games and financial shuffles to polish the numbers.

Unfortunately, prevalent management thinking seems to be locked into short term thinking mode. Just look to the business news.

The lean approach is a proven way to get results but it is not easy to implement nor is it as fast as many would like. Many companies that turn to the lean manufacturing approach want to get lean fast.

Even among those who promote the lean approach, there are differences of opinion on the best path, the right focus and on speed. Some of us look to get the low hanging fruit with kaizen blitz while others of us preach the slow and steady approach by building the foundation first. Some of us push the use of lean tools first while others push the thinking behind the tools first. Some of us consider the value stream map as the center of the lean approach while others view it as just another lean tool.

We even see cycles where certain lean aspects are hot topics. This happened with kaizen, 5S, Kanban, lean office, hoshin kanri, lean accounting, value stream maps and A3 thinking. These cycles do not change their value only their buzz factor.

No doubt that results are important but which way is best?

There is an old Japanese saying by Matsuo Basho, “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.” We need to find our own path that works for us while heading in the right direction.

As for speed: Which is better, a fast horse or a slow horse?

It all depends on whether you’re headed in the right direction or not.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Purpose of Lean Tools

What is the main purpose of lean tools?

What is the main purpose of 5S, Kanban, Visual Management, Glass Walls, hour-by-hour charts, Pareto Charts, Cause and Effect Diagrams (Fish Bone), Takt Time/Cycle Time Bar Charts, Spaghetti Diagrams, Concentration Diagrams, Value Stream Maps, and so on?

The main purpose is to immediately make problems visible.

Then we must focus our effort on solving them daily.


Every day.