Getting to Lean, LLC | Robert B. Camp, Lean Transformation Coach | 704.798.6980 |

Why Lean?

LEAN is known throughout the world as the business system that Toyota used to grow from an inconsequential Japanese truck manufacturer to the world’s # 1 automobile company.

“Lean’s just for manufacturing, right?”

Admittedly, much of the early work with Lean was conducted in manufacturing organizations, but LEAN works anywhere there’s a process. 

If you clean teeth, you use a process.  If you stock grocery shelves, manage a warehouse, pay employees, purchase supplies, or perform brain surgery, you use processes.  The point is that we all use processes, even in making coffee or supper.  And, yes, even those can be LEANed.

How can LEAN help my organization?

The tools of LEAN target waste, identifying & eliminating things that add cost without value.  The philosophies of LEAN create a business system that helps leaders sustain the gains made with the tools.

Would it help you:

  • To find new capacity without adding new employees or equipment?
  • To deliver better products and services faster?
  • If you turned your money faster?
  • If implemented employee suggestions rose 5 or even 10 times?
  • If your managers became leaders and your workers became topnotch problem solvers?

Those are all things that LEAN delivers.

Perhaps an example would help.

PROBLEM:  You purchase packing materials for your product.  Then you pay someone to box & ship your product to a local customer.   Your customer pays someone to remove your box and then pays to send it to the landfill.  That’s a lot of waste: cost without value.

LEAN would ask: “Could you use a recyclable shipping container?”  Think of the savings for you and your customer.  Could those savings give you a commercial advantage?

What if you could develop a system for using the shipping container as a visual signal?  When your customer returns containers, it triggers you to build enough new products to fill the returned containers?

“Wait!”  You say.  “I sell a service.”

PROBLEM:  Picture a company that services home appliances.  They have a large number of existing clients.  When a new client calls, the receptionist schedules a service call.

The client takes the day off.  The service tech arrives, but is required to write the client’s account # on his paperwork.  The client didn’t know they needed to have an account.  The service tech politely tells the client to call the receptionist to setup an account, then leaves.  He promises to return once the receptionist has issued a new service call.

How’s does the client feel?  How’s the Tech feel?  How much money did the service provider just waste?  Worse, how much good will did they waste?

LEAN would ask: “Couldn’t the receptionist establish whether this is a new client and setup the account during the initial call?”  You’d save your clients from wasting a day off work, prevent them from being frustrated with your firm (and potentially calling your competition when your tech leaves) and, you’d make far better use of your Tech and his fully stocked vehicle.

Once the whole New Client process has been mastered, the receptionist could be trained to print the Tech’s sheets for the next day’s service calls.  Those printouts could have all the customer data right on them, including whether they’d already paid.  Further improving an already improved process.  That’s the Continuous Improvement part of LEAN.