like Lean on Steroids
Most manufacturers and several other
types of businesses are familiar with the need to adopt the Japanese Lean Strategies that are the very
sensible competitive conducts which produced the Miracle of Toyota and other
These strategies are based on the
common thought of Kaizen – Continuous Improvement. Even if not all of them are applicable to every
business, the adoption of some of them can make processes more efficient and effective, thus the
operations become more profitable.
There are though some weaknesses in
the Lean Implementation. These are most of the time generated by the lack of commitment of some of the participants. Those weaknesses can
break the purpose of the implementation and waste all the energy that some people put into the objective
of implementing the system. The investment gets
Actually, most of the organizations
trying to implement Lean can feel frustrated and abandon the idea in the first year. This happens in up
to 80% of cases; mostly when they try to do it without a consulting partner. The reason is that the
person in charge is a current leader who is given the assignment on top of the responsibilities of their
normal position, so they can’t devote enough time and energy to the demanding tasks of the
transformation. Many of those companies will not survive, or at best stay achieving median results and be
very vulnerable to competition. The frustration comes
naturally from the weaknesses we mention above. What happens is that the disciplines implied by Lean
implementations demand some drastic changes… excuse the bad word. Change is never comfortable, especially
for those who enjoy stability and privileges in the Status Quo of the traditional enterprise. Those
changes are critical to create a true Lean Culture. Unfortunately some people who already have a certain
status in the organization but have not understood the effects of improvement will try instinctively and
naturally to block the evolution. They would need to learn more about all the benefits that each
individual can derive of the new ways of doing things and interacting within the Lean
Normally what we can see is that
most Lean efforts have been focused, (sometimes very successfully), on a particular problem and
department. Unfortunately, even if that particular tool or strategy was very well implemented, rarely
does it really permeate to other areas of the company. Exxon in Colombia had a great idea; as soon as we
managed to implement TPM, they started rotating managers between the different areas of responsibility.
The best practices started strengthening and spreading, and the poor leaders became evident and for the
most part voluntarily quit. Rotation is an excellent strategy that some organizations fear to put into
practice thinking of the uncertainty of some people when they are moved out of their comfort zone.
One deterrent to rotation is the need to give people more
preparation all the time; that continuous training is a good habit which did not exist in the traditional
A good friend and director of a
maquiladora plant complained that it was expensive to train people just to see them leave for a better
opportunity. I said: “It is worse to not train them and have them stay.” My answer made him accept the
proposal that has succeeded for many years now.
When this is put into practice we
can see a substantial improvement in the management culture. Now we are succeeding in Lean and probably
wondering if there is a Better and Faster way… Yes, there
This is the point where a different
approach can help resolve all the apathies and fears. This approach is called OpEx, short for Operational
Excellence. OpEx helps people become more proactive and interdependent, and at the same time, more
OpEx puts things in the right order
because the first action is Education. Step number one is the Understanding from each individual of the
goal, and the method to achieve it, where they can see that their contribution is a piece of it! This is
propelled by the motivation of the measurable benefits that we all derive from doing it! All the
participants build their vision of the best future of the operation. When the vision is literally owned
by the participants we can rest assured that they will do what it takes to maintain the focus on the
Training takes a new meaning in the OpEx enterprise. No longer training is that
isolated obligation of giving people a few hours of indoctrination each year. Training here will be a
critical part of the operation’s equation. When possible, training should happen every single day, even
for a few minutes. It does not need to be a formal classroom thing. At the most efficient corrugated
cardboard plant of the world, we have a daily meeting of 15 to 20 minutes at the end of the shift.
Operators learn what happened in the day, and how it was solved. They participate with their ideas and
experiences and create a true synergy that bonds the team. The common thinking is that the time and
resources invested in training is a waste. Wrong! Training is likely the best thing you can do to keep
people interested in their jobs and engaged to their job, brand, and enterprise.
The accomplishments are very
straight forward. That is a result of a Total Commitment from the Organization as a whole. This is not
supposed to be a Discipline by mandate, or something that is imposed on people. This is exactly the
opposite approach: The spontaneous proactive actions of each and every one of the associates at every
level of the enterprise. Why should they be interested into the Flow that OpEx creates? Because OpEx is
the single motivator for efficiency that we all have learned and is understood, promoted, and made
reality by all the elements in the Company-Wide TEAM.
We are not talking anymore about a
Continuous Improvement approach, which can be very good but not as thorough as we all need it. This
Company-Wide understanding of flow, makes each of us a guardian of the productivity. Flow needs this true
significance and transparency, so each individual can clearly see their contribution to it. Not only is
it awareness, it is the realization that we can take autonomous actions to prevent or correct the process
so that there are no delays or failures in the flow.
What is that we want to achieve?
Countless advantages like:
Shorter lead times
Increased on time
Reduced waste of
Fewer risks and accidents
Lower personnel turnover
Fewer defective processes or
Obviously these carry increased
efficiency and higher productivity, which leads to a more cost-effective operation and quicker return on
It is a clear benefit over Lean because
of the Company-Wide Culture that assures the total cooperation from everyone in the organization. It is a
quantum leap to the top of effectiveness that in the route of continuous improvement would take years, which
creates disenchantment in the weaker.
The facts that
make this Culture work:
Each individual participates in the Vision of an optimal operation from the beginning.
They all are constantly trained and timely informed about the total flow of the
They are given the empowerment to intervene directly, personally or in groups to fix the flow even
before it is interrupted.
This all can be done without the need for intervention or especial permission from
Mora Global is ready to help.
We have been helping many companies bring in this magnificent Management infrastructure and will be
glad to do a free assessment and Strategic Plan exclusive for your enterprise. Your Results are Assured with our
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