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Topic Title: What's your biggest operational excellence roadblock?
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Created On: 11/07/2013 12:34 PM
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11/07/2013 03:13 PM
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MikeRoberts
Mike Roberts



I think it's safe so say that most companies have some type of operational excellence/continuous improvement initiative (actually 87% of business leaders said they do in a recent mfg survey we conducted). But that doesn't necessarily mean those initiatives are being executed on. We just published an article on one major problem with operational excellence models, and I'm interested to learn what the Lean community members' think. Based on your experiences, what are the major roadblocks to achieving operational excellence? Culture? IT? Metrics?
11/14/2013 07:02 AM
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LeanSpec
Dave Kippen



Lack of leadership that is driving improvements. I mean, REALLY driving improvements. Not just "supporting" the initiatives of the CI group. Jamie Flinchbaugh said something that has stuck with me: "If your leadership team is "behind you", that is still behind!" It needs to be them leading the effort and unfortunately too often they do not.
11/14/2013 09:02 PM
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Kaizenguy
jason libby



I agree. 99% of our top management only worry about "looking" lean. They tend to shy away from the real work it takes to transform an entire company's culture and way of thinking. Posting Standardized work charts and quality standards doesn't make you lean. It's what you do with the tools you have hopefully learned to use.
11/18/2013 01:47 PM
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22767
Sam Tomas



I believe we have to be careful when we say top management is always responsible if a Lean implementation doesn't produce expected results. It's just too easy to blame top management if an installation doesn't attain expected levels of performance. Who is responsible then really depends upon what level of management we are talking about. Top management usually has too many operational and strategic initiatives to worry about and manage to get personally involved in any time-consuming task such as managing a Lean implementation. What they typically do is to assign whomever they decide was a qualified project leader, or project champion, to take charge of a Lean implementation. I would guess that person would be someone with a production or manufacturing background for example. If a project leader is selected and if the Lean installation turns out to be less than satisfactory, we can then say it was the Project Leader's responsibility to assure success but he didn't perform to an expected level. I would suggest at that point that the inadequate installation problem be corrected rather than just blame top management. We shouldn't blame top management except to say that maybe he picked the wrong person to be project leader.
Sam Tomas
11/18/2013 01:47 PM
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founder
fahd lahrech



Lean has to be driven from top down and down up. If any of these streams is blocked or lacking, then Lean will not take place properly and it will be more of a cost improvement program than a true lean. Lean is about the people, the people, the people. The customers, the suppliers, the stakeholders, the associates, the management and the society. One major roadblock is lack of transparency and communication of the roadmap (if there is any) from the leader of CI to the rest of the company and teams involved. Make sure there is a roadmap being communicated across the whole organization and it aligns with the organizational goals, mission, vision and strategies. Make Lean as one of the top strategies to bond every aspect of the organization and take it one step at a time in the right order while mitigating the risk of negative impacts that turn people away from this wonderful initiative.
11/19/2013 10:15 PM
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LeanSpec
Dave Kippen



Sam, I couldnt disagree more. If management assigns Lean to someone as a project, it has already failed. Leadership has to show active participation, period.
11/20/2013 07:22 AM
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Boeing_Lean
Ken Hunt



Dave,

Bingo! Not only it is important that there be engagement from ALL levels of the company, but Lean is a culture, not a project that at some point comes to an end.

Blaming a project leader or anyone else for that matter is a cop-out on the part of leadership, and it shows a lack of commitment. The buck stops at the top, period.

Ken
11/25/2013 08:20 AM
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ndavison
Noah Davison



Sam,

I've seen Lean Transformation be the sweet beautiful success that it's meant to be and I've seen it be a complete and utter failure that is so common. The difference between the two was that the success not only had leadership that "talked the talk," but "walked the walk" also. I mean getting out on the "shop floor," rolling up there sleeves and helping frontline staff solve problems. Being purposefully present and leading the Lean Tranformation. Failure happens when Lean is rolled out as a "project" and assigned to someone. Sure, your organization needs champions that have support and a sphere of inluence from the top to the bottom. But if your leaders sit in their office and never lead in the tranformation, you are doomed. Lean is strategy, not a project. And if there's a failure, the problem isn't necessarily that the project leader failed, but that the overall system failed likely because the Leaders aren't truly committed. If they aren't truly committed one else will be either. Lean eventually becomes your management system where those "operational and strategic initiatives" are then a part of that system.
11/25/2013 08:40 AM
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Robert_Simonis
Robert Simonis



Accounting practices. This is the ultimate metric which drives the other metrics, which drives behavior, which drives results. Without a change to management and operational accounting no other changes will last.
11/26/2013 06:03 AM
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KeithL
Keith Lodahl



This is sad but true. Many otherwise capable management structures I have worked with have failed because the accounting system was not compatable with Lean, or anything other than Taylorism.

It is critical to gain the trust of the CFO if possible. I did have one CFO that told me to stay in my office until I had made the organization Lean. I knew that I had a lot of work to do with him.
11/26/2013 06:04 AM
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22767
Sam Tomas



Noah, a while back, Boeing Aircraft Company's Senior VP/CFO, Mike Sears, made the following statement:

"Our entire enterprise will be a Lean operation, characterized by the efficient use of assets, high inventory turns, excellent supplier management, short cycle times, high quality, and low transaction costs." Note that Boeing is focused intensely on company growth and creating value for their stakeholders including customers, shareholders, and employees.

Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company's VP of Materials Mnagement, Mike Walters, also made a statement a while back:

"Lean manufacturing is a strategic choice for enterprises facing series competition. It is now widely recgnized that enterprises who have mastered lean methods will enjoy substantial cost and quality advantages over those that are still practicing large-scale production. The choice for enteprises today is simple: improve or die."

Now tell me truthfully, do you see either of these management persons getting out on the shop floor, rolling up their sleeves and helping front line staff solve problems? Of course not. They have to depend upon the people they have selected to manage programs to support the workers, or process owners as they are also referred to. It's the same with the military. Generals depend upon their Captains and Lieutenants that depend upon their Sargents to get the job done.

Maybe Ken Hunt can verify that Mike Sears does get out on the shop floor to help with problem solving. If he does however, wouldn't that be considered micro-managing by some people? Would Mike Sears even have the knowledge needed to solve problems occuring anywhere on the shop floor? My guess is that Mike Sears depends upon project leader types to mamage projects and correct problems.

Let's look at the miitary. As General Collen Powell stated a while back:

"Organization doesn't really accomplish anything. Plans don't accomplish anything either. Theories of management don't much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the peole involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds. In a brain-based economy, your best assets are people. We've heard this expression so often that it's become trite. But how many leaders really "walk the talk" with this stuff? Too often, people are assumed to be empty chess pieces to be moved around by grand viziers, which may explain why so many top managers immerse their calendar time in deal making, restructuring and the latest management fad. How many immerse themselves in the goal of creating an environment where the best, the brightest, the most creative are attracted, retained and, most importantly, unleased?"

Note that these types of people are candidates to becom project leaders.

As another general, General Patton I believe, also said at one time, "Never tell a soldier how to do a job. Just tell him what you want done and then get the hell out of his way." What the general is explaining is that the American soldier is the best trained soldier in the world and knows how to do his job without a General looking over his shoulder.

Sam Tomas
11/26/2013 06:06 AM
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22767
Sam Tomas



Noah, there seems to be an assumption that a project leader is just someone that is plucked from a group of workers and made a project leader. Just because a person is working in manufacturing for example, doesn't obviously qualify him or her to be a manufacturing project leader. He or she has to be the "right" person for the job. Here is what General Collen Powell had to say about picking people:

"Powell's Rules for Picking People:" Look for intelligence and judgement, and most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego, and the drive to get things done."

"How often do our recruitment and hiring processes tap into these attributes? More often that not, we ignore them in favor of length of resume, degrees and prior titles. A string of job descriptions a recruit held yesterday seem to be more important than who one is doday, what they can contribute tomorrow, or how well their values mesh with those of the organzation. You can train a bright, willing novice in the fundamentals of your business fairly readily, but it's a lot harder to train someone to hav eintegrity, judgement, energy, balance, and the drive to get things done. Good leaders stack the deck in thier favor right in the recruitment phase."

Sam Tomas
11/26/2013 12:57 PM
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Boeing_Lean
Ken Hunt



Sam,

I can tell you this. Mike Shanahan, the VP and GM of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, goes to the shop floor on a regular basis at multiple sites, and videos these visits for all to view. He talks to the people, understands what is going on, and takes action where necessary. This is NOT micro managing, it is called involvement, talking the talk and walking the walk.

Additionally, VP's of each program do their best to engage the workforce at the Gemba. I would be careful about making an assumption based on one person's quote from any company until I did the research to get the facts.

Ken
11/26/2013 03:50 PM
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22767
Sam Tomas



Ken, I believe the problem is that so many people say that to be successful in implementing a Lean program you need total top management support, but they don't define what they believe total top management support really encompasses. Maybe you can enlighten me on what your definition of what total top management suport is, and maybe other people reviewing this topic can volunteer their definitions.

I'm also assuming that when Shannon video tapes his visits to the shop floor it's because there are way to many areas within Boeing for him to cover. The videos are then shown to all the other departments he didn't have time to visit. I'm not knocking that - I think that's a good, and popular approach by the way, to get the message out to the troops. But does that fit your definition of top management spport?

Sam Tomas
12/03/2013 05:43 AM
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Boeing_Lean
Ken Hunt



Saying to be successful in Lean you need total top management support is not a problem, it is a reality. That said, there is no "cookie cutter" approach to what that means. There seems to be a tendency at times to to try to define "the" answer, when it varies from company to company. The size of a company, multiple locations, etc. will of course have an effect on what a reasonable expectation would be for physical visits.

Simply put, if it is demonstrated from the top down that roadblocks will be removed to enable CI, how that is done is not the improtant thing, but rather THAT it is done. We can have an endless thread about definitions, but the question we should ask ourselves is "Are we being successful in our Lean journey, and if not, are we getting the leadership support to help us get there?". If the answer s yes, then we are getting support from the top.
12/03/2013 05:43 AM
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ndavison
Noah Davison



Sam,

I certainly do not disagree with you. Someone on top, usually the CEO, will determine the vision and high level strategy. I'm simply stating what I have seen work. Ken mentions that a VP/GM is visiting the shop floor. Perhaps it's similar to Gemba walks that are used in many organizations. I too have experienced leaders visiting the shop floor, actually working with frontline staff to solve problems, and I can tell you that this kind of Purposeful Presence helps to ensure accountability and success. Does this mean that the VP of the site, or the Plant Manager is doing this on a daily basis? No. I agree with you that they don't have time to "manage" a lean implementation. They don't have to manage it. They just need to be visible, help to solve problems and be constantly speaking the language. Gemba walks happen with a pre-determined frequency and they add significant value. I think like others' who responded to this post, the real issue I have is that you use the term "project leader" and say that the person who is the project leader should be held accountable if lean is a failure. Sure there should be accountability there, but what I am saying is that I have seen lean rolled out both ways, and what you describe, I have seen fail. It's when I have seen leaders be truly engaged and involved that there was the greatest success. Hopefully, in your organization, it works! We simply need all industry to be more Lean.

Noah
12/03/2013 09:08 PM
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22767
Sam Tomas



Ken, I believe you provided one answer to what total management support (TMS)means, namely, TMS is whatever a company describes it as being but as it applies only to themselves specifically. In other words, different companies probably have differen't definitions.

It's intertesting that earlier, when this forum was discussing a definition of Lean, that there seemed to be some acceptance that maybe Lean only meant whatever a particular company defined it as, but as it also only applied to that specific company.

I'd like to suggest a universal definition of Top Management Support, but first, I would suggest changing that title to Top Management Commitment. Then I would pattern the definition to the definition of Top Management Commitment (quality) that appears in the APICS dictionary. Here is the APICS definition for top management commitment (quality) as it appeared in the thirteenth edition of their dictionary.

"Top Management Commitment (quality)--In the total quality management philosophy, participation of the highest-level official in the organization's quality improvement efforts.

Participation includes establishing and serving on a quality committee, establishing quality policies and goals, deploying those goals to lower levels of the organization, providing the resources and training that the lower levels need to achieve the goals, participating in quality improvement teams, reviewing organization-wide progress, recognizing those who have performed well, and revising the current reward system to reflect the importance of achieving quality goals."

Some words can be changed so as to apply to Lean programs rather than quality programs.

Comments anyone?

Sam Tomas
12/06/2013 11:12 AM
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icurry
Ian Curry



I have found the biggest obstacle to operational excellence/continuous improvement initiatives is where the responsibility to deliver the improvement is placed.

Often (actually in all but one organisation I have worked in) it is given to a specialised operational excellence/continuous improvement/lean team and (in my experience) that is the impediment for two key reasons:
- Firstly it takes away responsibility from the operational teams to improve their operations; they can simply throw issues over the wall to the specialist team.
- Secondly it puts pressure on the specialist teams to validate their existence by delivering demonstrable cost savings and the common response is to try and force change onto the operational units.
The results of this approach tend to be very ineffective.

What about the one organisation that went the other way?
It placed the responsibility in the hands of the operational units and provided a team of dedicated and experienced coaches to help guide (but never compel) these units in their endeavours.
This approach built trust, encouraged growth and learning in all involved. It is also the only company that achieved real results.
01/15/2020 09:38 AM
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asiri88
Hewa karu



Originally posted by: MikeRoberts

I think it's safe so say that most companies have some type of operational excellence/continuous improvement initiative (actually 87% of business leaders said they do in a recent mfg survey we conducted). But that doesn't necessarily mean those initiatives are being executed on. We just published an article on one major problem with operational excellence models, and I'm interested to learn what the Lean community members' think. Based on your experiences, what are the major roadblocks to achieving operational excellence? Culture? IT? Metrics?



Great stuff! Btw , you can read my article on here to get more info on Opertional excellence principlas. The problem in the modern industries would be most of the time this tools are not used properly to optimize
01/16/2020 11:33 AM
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JeanC
Jean Cunningham



I believe one of the biggest barriers is seeing lean as a project as opposed to a way to work to get better outcomes.