I recently had a conversation with an old friend who operated a lemonade stand when he was younger. In the beginning, he didn’t need anything besides himself to sustain his business and the supply demanded. However, as more people found out about his lemonade, he noticed that his business began to increase. He decided it would be a good idea to add more flavors to his lemonade and snacks. With this new diversity of his product line and overall demand increase, he quickly realized that he needed help, and not just from other people. The simplicity of just mixing the lemons, water, and sugar was long gone. He needed a technical approach to make his dream a reality.
After hearing his whole story, I began to think about the fact that if he needed to resort to using more technology while running a lemonade stand, what makes anyone think that the same fate would not be inevitable for a large company?
Sure, there are some companies that only have one product or very similar products being made on one machine, which doesn’t require major changes in their operations. But what about those companies that have increased their product line or even those that originally started with a larger quantity of products? If they want to make their operations more Lean, they definitely cannot use the paper cards and visual systems of the past. This dated system may make things more difficult. They would have to rely on some form of technology because it is certainly needed to manage the complexities of the ever-changing product mix. We had a similar discussion in a past blog post. In that series we discussed how Lean is about, not only the people and processes, but also technology. Technology is critical to any Lean process and will always help achieve the desired results.
Does your company currently rely on technology to assist with your Lean efforts? Do you have any examples of experiences you would like to share? Let’s discuss.