Wednesday, September 28, 2005

How do I start on the Lean Journey?

This question is by far the most popular in any discussion on the implementation of lean manufacturing. If you are thinking about starting out on your quest towards becoming lean, seek knowledge first.

Knowledge about lean can come from talking with others about their lean experiences, reading lean books (I highly recommend "The Toyota Way" by Jeffrey Liker), examining company case studies on their lean journey and visiting other companies using the lean approach. Other opportunities to gain knowledge include using consultants, exploring the internet, joining a lean group like The Paradigm Network (reference earlier post) or even participating in a kaizen event hosted by another company. With this knowledge, you can make a determination if the lean approach is the right direction for you.

The next step is to plan and prepare your best course of action that makes sense for your company and matches your lean vision. All companies have unique situations, products, markets, resources, talents, etc. Your plans should fit your particular needs and capabilities. It really does not matter if you pick 5S or value stream mapping (or any other area) to start. It really does not matter which department or plant to start. Go with a lean plan based on what you have learned and what feels right. Now pick a date to start, the time for action must begin!

Knowledge is power.
Action gets results.
Knowledge + Action = Powerful Results

One additional note: Regardless of how you begin, everybody that pursues lean makes mistakes, hits roadblocks, experiences some failures and achieves some successes. What is important is that you have begun the quest!

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