The Skinny on Lean: It’s Everyone’s Job

The Skinny on Lean: It’s Everyone’s Job

In lean, every effort toward producing more value to the customer counts. Although the appeal of lean is almost universal, its benefits are not necessarily so. Usually, the culprit is a lack of discipline in sustaining continuous improvements. As time passes, old improvements lose their effectiveness.

New ideas must continuously emerge to maintain productivity growth and keep people’s engagement alive in rapidly changing environments.


Video Spotlight:Kaizen Lean Process Improvement


This post is based on the NY Times article, Here’s the Skinny: For Lean Production Processes to Work, a Company Needs to Be All In, by E. Rosen, October 11, 2018, and the YouTube video, Kaizen Lean Process Improvement, by Sheridan Healthcare, September 10, 2013 Image source: (c) Creatas/PunchStock.

Discussion Questions:

1. What are some of the lean characteristics mentioned in the article? Provide examples.

Guidance: Characteristics include waste reduction (e.g., value analysis: no cover required, reducing non-value-added time with trash can attached to chair, smoothing work flow at Ace Metal); continuous improvement (e.g. continuing to reduce non-value-added time with more revisions to process improvement); lean culture (e.g. getting everyone involved at Watlow), use of cross-functional teams (e.g. problem at Lantech when changes are Continue reading

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Lean: To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before

Lean: To Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before

Elon Musk, the daring innovator and entrepreneur, aims for Tesla to surpass Toyota as the leader in lean manufacturing. He has laid out a vision for an automated, highly productive factory with outputs far exceeding those of competitors.

Multiple critics question his ambitions and highlight the numerous challenges Tesla has yet to overcome, including getting its Model 3 production line up to speed.

This post is based on the Forbes article, Musk Thinks Tesla Will School Toyota On Lean Manufacturing; Fixing Model 3 Launch Would Be A Start, by J. Muller, February 16, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock / Nick Starichenko.

Discussion Questions

1. Elon Musk believes that Tesla can build a million vehicles per year in a single factory. Is he referring to design capacity or effective capacity? Explain.

Guidance: Actually, it is not clear whether Musk is referring to the maximum output rate (design capacity) or what can be built after allowances have been taken into account (effective capacity). This is a good opportunity to discuss the differences between the two definitions of capacity.

2. Critics warn Musk against the financial risks of building such capacity. Express their concerns in terms of efficiency and utilization.

Guidance Continue reading

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