Written by: Jason Haines

“Many people think Lean is about cutting heads, reducing the workforce or reducing inventory. Lean is really a growth strategy. It is about gaining market share and being prepared to enter or create new markets.” – Ernie Smith, Lean Event Facilitator in the Lean Enterprise Forum at the University of Tennessee

A lot of people ask this question and the answer always varies. Often, when a company wants to implement Lean, they are having trouble with things like defective products, labor challenges, late orders, and excessive costs. On the other hand, many thriving companies want to apply Lean to continuously improve their processes to be great at what they do. 

Lean has been used in multiple industries with many successes and many failures. The achievement of Lean depends on a company’s leadership and how willing they are to put in the work. The system of Lean is relatively simple when utilized and implemented. However, it is difficult to start because it is a mindset and culture change; a great deal of hard work to keep the system in place for the long term. This mindset and culture change are sometimes what keeps companies from achieving Lean in a way that makes a powerful difference.

How and where to start? That is up to you and your company. Many find it difficult and decide to quit just before success is realized. Others will keep pushing through their failures and find the successes that will help everyone. Google “guys digging for diamonds meme” for a good visual. Whatever you do, do not sacrifice your long-term success for short term gains; this is one place that will surely create frustration and ultimately lead to failure.

Start with a vision for your company, a true north as many people say. Or as Simon Sinek says, “Start with your Why.” As you have your vision, which is typically blurry but a direction for everyone to follow, start to create target conditions. These target conditions will get you small, but achievable, gains that are sustainable. And as you keep nailing the target conditions and eliminating problems in processes, your vision will become clearer.

There are many companies that can help in providing services for your Lean journey.  One of these companies is C Tek Lean Solutions.  C Tek provides a variety of modular systems and free design services that will help you along this journey to efficiently and cost-effectively put your ideas into motion. Whether it be a Lean flow cell or a Kanban / Kitting cart, one of C Tek’s tubing systems will provide the flexibility for your company to create anything you have in mind.

Remember, Lean provides longevity and satisfaction to all stakeholders within your business. The employees feel needed, empowered, and a sense of safety that their jobs will always be there. Employees also feel that they can grow with the company and become more successful.

Lean is a Journey, and we are here to help!