Telephone
517-372-5900

As of 2/20/19, all users must create a new account. Click “Login” and then “Create an Account” or contact MMA at 517-487-8542 for assistance.

Menu

All or Nothing: Leadership, Lean and Organizational Learning and Improvement

This article appeared in the October 2019 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

Strong leadership. Lean practices. Continuous learning and improvement. Michigan manufacturers know the value of these three things as well as anyone.

Leadership

Where would we be without Henry Ford’s strength, vision and passion? Today’s manufacturing leaders must possess Ford’s creativity as well as the charisma and leadership skills to lead diverse workforces. They are leaders of men and women, inspiring them every day to be their best, even as market forces them to adjust and adapt.

Without strong leaders, the backbone of our nation — the manufacturing industry — would struggle.

Lean

Ford drastically reduced waste using his assembly line system, but the 1990s Toyota Production System truly perfected the concept of “lean.” Changing how we think about workplace waste was a big business challenge for us before the turn of the century, but is a lesson more and more Michigan manufacturers understand today.

Tour almost any facility today and you’ll see production cells, “5S” workspaces, and teams taking problem solving to the “gemba.” We eliminate waste at a rate saving us hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Continuous Improvement

The idea of making regular improvements goes by many names — continual improvement, process improvement, process design, quality improvement — but the message is clear; workplace improvements shouldn’t be a one-time thing. It’s not a “flavor of the month.” It’s something constantly happening in a healthy workplace and everyone should be involved.

Why am I not getting better results?

Each component is valuable, but they are not meant to be stand-alone practices:

  • Manufacturing is full of examples of leaders with superior vision and leadership skills who led businesses filled with waste. Often, these leaders are very popular with staff but don’t “move the needle.”
  • Lean experts are more common than ever, but without their work being supported by leadership they can easily grow frustrated.
    • Does your organization resort to layoffs/cuts when sales are down?
    • Is measuring “productivity” the most common way to identify cost issues?
  • Continuous improvement should be something everyone can get behind.
    • Is it embraced by all, or viewed as a disruption?
    • Is it a part of everyone’s daily work, or treated as “optional?”
Make the Most of Your Systems

You may have one or a combination of these three components, but without connecting them and building them into the culture, you can miss your potential.

Leaders should view these as three components of the same system. Lean strategies without a supportive culture can only go so far, and they go nowhere without leadership support. Embed lean into your daily culture and treat it like the business lifeblood that it is.

Remember:

  • Engage your team daily.
  • Incorporate lean tools into their standard work.
  • Learn the forms of waste and embrace the power of standardization.
  • Give your staff time to make improvements and remove the political barriers that often prevent lasting improvement.
  • Don’t let excuses like, “we are too busy” or “that’s not my job” to stall the culture change.

Your staff is the fuel. Lean can be the engine. Put your team in position to succeed and you’ll be on your way to maximizing your business.

About the Author

Bernie AdamsBernie Adams is CEO for ProcessPro. He may be reached at 855-277-6627 or bernie.adams@processpro.net.

This article appeared in the October 2019 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.

Strong leadership. Lean practices. Continuous learning and improvement. Michigan manufacturers know the value of these three things as well as anyone.

Leadership

Where would we be without Henry Ford’s strength, vision and passion? Today’s manufacturing leaders must possess Ford’s creativity as well as the charisma and leadership skills to lead diverse workforces. They are leaders of men and women, inspiring them every day to be their best, even as market forces them to adjust and adapt.

Without strong leaders, the backbone of our nation — the manufacturing industry — would struggle.

Lean

Ford drastically reduced waste using his assembly line system, but the 1990s Toyota Production System truly perfected the concept of “lean.” Changing how we think about workplace waste was a big business challenge for us before the turn of the century, but is a lesson more and more Michigan manufacturers understand today.

Tour almost any facility today and you’ll see production cells, “5S” workspaces, and teams taking problem solving to the “gemba.” We eliminate waste at a rate saving us hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Continuous Improvement

The idea of making regular improvements goes by many names — continual improvement, process improvement, process design, quality improvement — but the message is clear; workplace improvements shouldn’t be a one-time thing. It’s not a “flavor of the month.” It’s something constantly happening in a healthy workplace and everyone should be involved.

Why am I not getting better results?

Each component is valuable, but they are not meant to be stand-alone practices:

  • Manufacturing is full of examples of leaders with superior vision and leadership skills who led businesses filled with waste. Often, these leaders are very popular with staff but don’t “move the needle.”
  • Lean experts are more common than ever, but without their work being supported by leadership they can easily grow frustrated.
    • Does your organization resort to layoffs/cuts when sales are down?
    • Is measuring “productivity” the most common way to identify cost issues?
  • Continuous improvement should be something everyone can get behind.
    • Is it embraced by all, or viewed as a disruption?
    • Is it a part of everyone’s daily work, or treated as “optional?”
Make the Most of Your Systems

You may have one or a combination of these three components, but without connecting them and building them into the culture, you can miss your potential.

Leaders should view these as three components of the same system. Lean strategies without a supportive culture can only go so far, and they go nowhere without leadership support. Embed lean into your daily culture and treat it like the business lifeblood that it is.

Remember:

  • Engage your team daily.
  • Incorporate lean tools into their standard work.
  • Learn the forms of waste and embrace the power of standardization.
  • Give your staff time to make improvements and remove the political barriers that often prevent lasting improvement.
  • Don’t let excuses like, “we are too busy” or “that’s not my job” to stall the culture change.

Your staff is the fuel. Lean can be the engine. Put your team in position to succeed and you’ll be on your way to maximizing your business.

About the Author

Bernie AdamsBernie Adams is CEO for ProcessPro. He may be reached at 855-277-6627 or bernie.adams@processpro.net.
MFG Forum 2017
Events
MFG Forum 2017
The 2017 MFG Forum will outline the threats, discuss best practices and provide resources for protecting valuable manufacturing assets from cyber attack.
Mfg Excellence Awards 2017
Events
Mfg Excellence Awards 2017
This program recognizes excellence in manufacturing by honoring those who make a positive impact in their community and in their industry.
MFG Forum 2018
Events
MFG Forum 2018
The MFG Forum guides industry leaders through emerging issues like Industry 4.0 and provide resources to maintain Michigan’s manufacturing advantage in the 21st century.
Insurance Forms
Insurance, Internal Page
Insurance Forms
Download and print the forms you need to manage your benefits program.
Manufacturers Recognize Vantage Plastics for Community Impact
News
Manufacturers Recognize Vantage Plastics for Community Impact
MMA is proud to announce that Standish’s Vantage Plastics has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the MFG Community Impact Award.
Manufacturing’s Plan for Michigan
Advocacy
Manufacturing’s Plan for Michigan
Michigan’s economy is growing — but more remains to be done. Discover the industry’s top priorities for the 2017-2018 Legislative Session and help keep manufacturing moving forward.
Building a Competitive Michigan
Advocacy
Building a Competitive Michigan
MMA legislative and regulatory successes have saved Michigan manufacturers billions of dollars in recent years.
Reduced UI Taxable Wage Base Available in 2018
Advocacy
Reduced UI Taxable Wage Base Available in 2018
Eligible employers will qualify for a reduced taxable wage base of $9,000 for calendar year 2018 thanks to MMA-supported legislation passed in 2011.