How Lean Thinking Affects Information Needs: a Q & A with Jean Cunningham
Jean Cunningham pioneered the diffusion of lean principles from the manufacturing floor to finance, information systems, human resources, and telecommunications, starting at Lantech, whose lean transformation was described in Lean Thinking.
LEI recently asked her, “What questions do you hear most often from Lean Thinkers struggling with the information needs of a lean organization?” She replied:
- Will I need a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system when I adopt lean?
- How will I know if lean is having a positive impact on my financial results?
- If I am a division of a larger company that has not adopted lean thinking, how can I explain the impact of the investment I am making with lean?
- Sometimes lean sounds like a religion and that you have to be a true believer. I am much more of a nuts-and-bolts person who wants to see tangible results. Is this part of lean, too?
- What is the role of the IT function in the lean business strategy?
Read Jean's answers ...
How Accounting “Squirrels” Can Ferret Out Waste
While other functions are busy as beavers looking for waste during a lean transformation, your accounting staff is like a squirrel with its head stuck in a yogurt cup. They only see the traditional work right in front of them instead of digging into data for buried “nuts” of waste, says Jean Cunningham, LEI’s new executive chairman.
A Small Amount of Time Can Yield Big Results
Four minutes, well focused, can be a long time, notes Jean Cunningham. Without competing distractions, many words can be spoken, absorption of new info happens, and a good deal can be accomplished. We found we actually got more done by getting clear on our focus and our timeframe.
The Art of Work
A visit to the Grohmann Museum helped remind Jean Cunningham that when done correctly and consistently, lean starts to reconnect people to work and work to people. Using lean principles and tools helps recreate worker ownership of the work, connection to the customer need, and value creation.