Monday, January 06, 2003

How can I know if I'm doing Lean?

I've struggled with this one. The books about Lean are fascinating and the stories others tell are compelling. Yet, what does it look like? If I were a doctor and came up with a diagnosis "The patient is Lean" what would be the basis of that statement?

I've landed on five indespensible and observable characteristics. Look at an intact workgroup in a company and try to find the following.

  1. A Daily Start up Meeting
  2. A Visual Display of Results
  3. Documentation of work group practices
  4. A plan for continuous improvement
  5. An audit of progress
These are both observable and improvable. They each are simple, and ZERO capital expenditure is required to do any of them. They can turn a company around. They are difficult to do, consistently.

Which is exactly what a lean system is: simple, low cost, highly effective, and very difficult. Much like a good diet or an effective exercise program, it depends far more on consistnecy and follow through than on fancy gimmicks or big dollar payouts.

I'll discuss the daily start-up meeting and the visual display of results this week, as they are tightly related. Next week, I'll hit the other three.

I hope this is helpful.

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