In our 1st Edition (published in 1998) we noted: “Recent studies indicate that only 15% of all U.S. manufacturing companies are upgrading the competitive capability of their facilities by using a World Class Manufacturing (WCM) or Total Quality Management (TQM) related activity. Two-thirds of these programs fail and are terminated after only two years. Some authors indicate that these failures result from uncommitted management trying to quick-fix their organization by transplanting a successful company’s quality program to their own company.”
While the percentage of companies who have tried using World Class Manufacturing (Lean) or Six Sigma as their continuous improvement activity has dramatically increased (see text box below), the results after two years have not. The problem remains: management continues to view and use Lean as a quick-fix set of tools (5S for example) rather than as a complete business operating system that applies from RFQ to part or product delivery. Lean must be seen as the system by which companies run the organization to achieve their goals. More data can be found on the current state of Lean implementations in Chapter 1.
The 3rd edition reflects our knowledge and experience in implementing successful and sustainable Lean implementations. Successful and sustainable implementations begin with the company’s Leadership Team. It must understand that Lean, like all business change, starts at the top. The Leadership Team must be prepared to model the thinking and behaviors that Lean requires. Additionally, the Leadership Team must understand its roles and responsibilities in the implementation—Lean Planning and developing a Lean Culture. These activities are described in detail in the referenced chapters.
The Four Components of Successful and Sustainable Lean Implementations
Lean as an operating system has four components: Lean Concepts, Lean Planning, Lean Culture, and Lean Tools. All four components must be implemented simultaneously. In the manufacturing industry, the current focus on only the Lean Tools is a concern, because we have learned through trial and experience that this limited focus is a fatal mistake.
We devote an entire chapter to covering each of the four components of Lean in detail:
Chapters 5-12 provide an in-depth discussion of each of the Lean Tools. These chapters remain the same from the 2nd edition (with major updates), except for Chapters 6 and 7, which have been significantly updated by Vince Fayad.
When the final element, Kaizen (continuous improvement), becomes a permanent part of your culture, you will ensure your organization’s future against significant competitive gaps.
Does implementing Lean or World Class Manufacturing ultimately guarantee the future of your organization? Unfortunately, no! Even the most quality-conscious and cost-competitive organization cannot stay in business without customers. As Dr. W. Edwards Deming noted, “Employees do not close plants and force companies out of business, customers not buying products do.” Staying close to the customer is therefore an essential element of a successful manufacturing organization.