4 Key Signs of having Successfully Implemented Lean Manufacturing

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Four Critical Ingredients for a Successful Lean Manufacturing Implementation

Enrique Mora  


I am convinced: There is a way to learn fast about success. That is: Listening to the people who being successful share their wisdom. They usually have the answers we have been looking for. That is the case of this authentic Leader...

It was of great impact to listen the simplicity with which the “Manufacturer of the Year” in Mexico: Isidoro Mata, explained to the audience the day he received the award the basic behaviors of his remarkable success in the implementation of Lean Manufacturing.    

Four of his sentences have stayed very firm in my memory:  

1.    There are NO supervisors at their Querétaro plant

Indeed, when the workers of all the levels are qualified to develop their work responsibly and they are given the whole knowledge of the product and the function of the operation they perform, they don't need to have a “boss”. Therefore the importance that the current “supervisors” become authentic leaders facilitators that assure the personnel on the plant floor have all that may be necessary to carry out their operation, including education and training; materials, and tools, as well as the appropriate space.  

2. There are NO “Inspectors” either

By means of clearly assigning the responsibility to each operator, the quality inspectors are the operators themselves. Japanese call this: “Jidoka”, meaning Autonomous Quality, and together with the Just In Time delivery of materials and subensambles to each working station, are the two main pillars of the success of the Toyota group in the World. 

3.    There are NO Secrets

Every day all the members of the organization, whichever is their position of responsibility, included the worker that entered to work that day, receive a clear report of how the company is doing in terms of the business, management, and any quality issues, etc.  

4. There are NO “Indispensables”

By means of a strong structure that goes from internal training on the job to the integral cooperation with educational institutions, the associates at all levels have a constant opportunity to learn new techniques, and even the technicians or engineers that have not yet been hired, are in a continuous active training process that creates a constant source of qualified workforce that is so much needed in the industry all over the entire world. Isidoro says that even if he would at anytime pass away (Hopefully many decades will pass before that), the company would be in a constant progress without any problem.  

These concepts can seem simplistic. I am quite simplistic myself. These simple 4 ingredients, although quite difficult to put together, are definitively a very strong structure to assure that Lean Manufacturing succeeds in any company. 

As we already know, Ego can be enemy number one in this transition process. People involved in this transition should analyze their attitude and determine how they need to change their way to manage the interaction with the rest of the organization.  

It is not so much about “giving up” privileges that authority has given us the in the past, but discovering that when becoming leaders, as we share and delegate responsibilities, our results will be of much stronger impact.  

The best and simplest strategy to acquire Excellency in all activities is, as my good friend Mexican philosopher Miguel Ángel Cornejo said it: “to identify the best, to equal to the best, to overcome the best."  

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This page last updated on

08/19/08 07:38











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