MAKING LEAN A WAY OF LIFE
Nearly every business that embarks on a lean program does so with the goal of cutting costs. Those that are successful discover that at its core, lean is about three key points in every organization: purpose, people and process. If your purpose is clear, your people are empowered, and your processes are continually improving, you’ll see productivity increase and the cost savings will follow.
EMPOWER YOUR EMPLOYEES
At Wilson Tool, we’ve learned the secret to a successful, sustainable lean transformation is employee engagement. You cannot have lasting change throughout your organization without total buy-in from the top down. To do so, you must create a culture that embraces lean as a way of life, with everyone engaging in problem solving every day, everywhere.
A critical first step to creating a lean culture is fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect at every level and developing trust by implementing a no layoff policy due to lean activities. People are more likely to contribute ideas and make changes that improve workflow and increase productivity if they know their job is secure.
IMPLEMENT AN IDEA PROGRAM
Unless it is something that’s already part of your company culture, regularly sharing and implementing ideas for ways to improve does not come naturally to most employees. You must give them the tools and the time to do the work needed to make simple improvements every day. And we don’t mean adding a suggestion box to the employee lunch room.
At Wilson Tool, we developed Solutions That Achieve Results (STAR) through a Kaizen event. Project STAR is an idea program that encourages employees to implement small, continuous improvements that focus on quality, cost, delivery and safety within their own work areas. We strive for 100% participation throughout the company with a minimum of two ideas per person. We further incentivize participation by offering a reward for every five ideas implemented, as well as quarterly and group rewards.
The key is to find whatever motivation works for your team so they are eager to participate and feel empowered to make changes. No idea is too small, or too off the wall. The more ideas they see implemented quickly and successfully, the more ideas they will share.
CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
Finally, lean is a mindset, not a project of the month or something that’s done in spare time or when it’s convenient. It is a way of life for the entire company, from the corporate offices to the shop floor to shipping and receiving, and beyond. Everyone, everywhere, every day.
Learn more about Wilson Tool’s popular lean seminars for sheet metal fabricators.