The lean transformation of Ford’s product development and engineering operations, a critical driver of the iconic car company’s turnaround in profitability, quality, and market share, had to navigate some potholes in the early going.
“The first reaction of most of the engineers I worked with was not a positive one,” recalled, James Morgan, director, Global Body Exterior and Stamping Business Unit Engineering, Ford Motor Company. “There was a lot of push back. There was a lot of, ‘You don’t understand; that doesn’t work in this environment. Our work is different.’ ”
Morgan, who introduced lean product development concepts after joining the automaker in 2004, will describe the lean turnaround during a plenary presentation at the 2011 Lean Transformation Summit , March 9-10, Dallas.
During a recent Lean Blog podcast with Mark Graban, Morgan said a key step in overcoming engineers’ doubts about using lean principles was identifying the “tremendous amounts” of rework that existed in product development and engineering processes.
“Engineers clearly were not fond of having to do all this rework,” Morgan said. An example would be redesigning a hood that failed crash tests. But engineers had come to accept that rework, a critical waste under the Toyota Production System, was just part of the design process.
Morgan said he “made it very clear that by applying standardization to processes and to certain product attributes and architectures, you can eliminate a lot of the rework” by developing products that that were manufacturable and performed to appropriate levels from the start.
In a preview of his Summit presentation, Morgan said he would cover:
- Highlights of Ford’s renaissance in profitability, stock price, quality, market share, and awards-received.
- What changes were made in product development and theresults.
- How a systems-based model of high performance engineering addresses the key elements of people, process, tools and technologies.
- Why it is more powerful to work on an entire system rather than an aspect of the system.
- How system-based lean management applies to other fields, such as healthcare, the environment, economics, and more.