I find it very distressing when I hear people rejecting Lean because they think it is about reducing head count. Lean is NOT about firing people or initiating lay-offs.
Lean can save money, but it’s really more about making money – that is, streamlining processes so employees have time to think about how to improve the product or the process.
As you may know, the carpet industry has a huge presence in Georgia. I heard an anecdote recently that illustrates the power of employee engagement. A new COO had been hired and she was touring the manufacturing facility. As a sign of respect, she asked one of the long-time employees if he had any ideas or suggestions on how to “do things better”.
“Well,” he said, “I’ve had this idea for a while…when we order raw material X, we can specify how we want it. We have always ordered it extra-wide. But we don’t need to order it extra-wide. The first thing we do when we get a shipment in is cut it down and throw away a third of it. We could order the regular width. Maybe that could save us some money and time.”
The COO investigated this simple suggestion and immediately found an opportunity to save $680,000 annually in the cost of raw materials.
Lean is about listening, investigating, considering, and acting on good information. Wouldn’t you like to find $680K ?