Lean Cuisine gets Lean

Rick Bohan

I was just reading an article in Bloomberg Businessweek (Nestle Tries a Different Recipe For Lean Cuisine…it doesn’t seem to be on the website yet).

Here’s a line from the article:

A $50M innovation center opening July 22 in Solon, OH should let Nestle try recipes faster.

I’m posting this because it illustrates the primary value of lean methods and tools: shorter cycle times.  Notice that the quote says nothing about developing recipes more cheaply.  It’s “faster”.  Nestle will be able to get more products into the market in a given time period.  And it’s willing to spend $50M to do it.  That’s a decidedly strategic amount of money from which, Nestle hopes, it gets a decided strategic advantage.

Now, I don’t know if any of the money has been spent on mapping and improving the actual recipe development process.  One hopes so.  Spending money on capital isn’t “lean” per se, while process improvement is.

In any case, Nestle recognizes what many allegedly “lean companies” too often don’t:  it’s not about reducing costs or “getting more efficient”.  It’s about increasing strategic capacity.


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