One of the key misconceptions about LEAN is that its goal is to reduce the workforce. No wonder people might resist adopting it. However, as we shall see, LEAN is about engaging the workforce and not letting them go.
To better understand this we need to go back to the early days of LEAN when it was first introduced by Taiichii Ohno at Toyota in the 1950s.
In the book entitled, "Management Lessons From Taiichi Ohno," Lesson 6 talks about what a leader should do when an improvement is made. Instead, of letting a person go, you involve them in working on more improvements.
When Ohno introduced this concept he called it the "outside line man." These people would eventually become known as team leads. Over time, Ohno would take a group of leads and create a maintenance department whose job was to do kaizen (i.e. continuous improvement).
This department, made up of people who had worked on the line before and understood how things worked, would now be tasked to make further improvements so that more people could be taken out of the line. They also created new lines with the freed up resources and the knowledge they had learned.
"Making an improvement that can take one person out results in just one person's cost being saved. If you take that person and have her make improvements, you start getting savings of two, three, four, and five people and so forth. Taking out the best person and making her improve the rest is really effective."
This multiplication effect is what makes LEAN transformational.
Companies that adopt LEAN to reduce their workforce miss out on benefiting from further savings. They also end up removing the very people they need to transform their business to compete better, increase quality, and achieve the intended outcomes from compliance.
Instead of letting workers go, keep them and improve.
To learn more on how to apply LEAN Thinking to your business visit our website at www.leancompliance.ca