Why Is Lean So Damn Hard?

Rick Bohan

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

The quick answer is…it’s not.

It’s getting operators to put their tools back on a shadow board.  It’s getting supervisors and managers to regularly walk around the plant floor.  That’s not all of it, of course, but it’s pretty close.

So, why isn’t every manufacturing operation in the nation “lean”?

I don’t have a clear answer to the question.  As with the examples above, any lean implementation is basically just changing a bunch of behaviors.  Of course, the same is true regarding my efforts to lose 25 pounds…I just need to change certain behaviors around consuming too many simple carbs.  But just as every manufacturing operation isn’t lean, I and many of my fellow males aren’t skinny.  It should be easy but it’s not.

One thing is clear to me though…the real problem is that leadership is reluctant to change its own behavior.  Leadership installs the shadow board, then blames the operators for not using it.  Leadership writes up work instructions and standard procedures, then blames operators for not following them.  Leadership announces an “open door policy” then blames employees for not bringing it new ideas.


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