Lean Management

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Cover Lean management

The model of asking the work team to think, to experiment, and to learn from the data, is the model of lean management. It is management that is humble and not arrogant. It is management that observes, encourages, challenges, and learns. It is management that gathers the facts, encourages experimentation, and spreads best practices. It is management that practices what they preach to others.

In short, lean management is very much about asking questions and trying things, or encouraging others to try things. Lean management itself is not much about providing the right answer but it is very much about asking the right question.

Interview with Ade Asefeso

How do you manage lean successfully?

Effective Total Quality Management and Lean Kaizen implementation starts with the thorough implementation of the job`s basic work standards. After standardization has been decided, it has to be practiced exactly. In order to practice the standards perfectly, workers must know the true meaning and value of each standard – not only in theory. They must have the skill and knowledge to put it into practice. Then, it is the supervisor`s duty to check and confirm the standards have been put into practice exactly. The role of the supervisor is a very important one. Education and training of supervisors is essential. We create standardization based on the supervisor`s skill and knowledge; with the benefits for the company in mind. Supervisors are the link between the front line workers and upper management.

Where do Gemba kaizen comes in?

Sometimes, implementation of work standards is not enough. The operators may carry out the work sequence and standards but feel some uneasiness; this is the time for them to suggest kaizen. The key is to create a working environment where workers can suggest improvements. Work standards must be followed, but once workers realize that a particular standard is not enough, it is the time for kaizen. When there is a need for Kaizen, supervisors must be able to improve the work sequence or fix the abnormality. Motivation in the workplace creates momentum for effective gemba kaizen implementation.

How do you manage workforce in lean environment?

Upper level (above supervisors) must understand the Kaizen philosophy and the importance of motivation in the workplace. Actually, it`s front line workers` ideas and suggestions which must be absorbed into the upper levels of management. Kaizen implementation is truly a bottom-up approach to effective management. In the Western Europe and USA, there is a separation between blue collar and white collar workers. If blue collar workers must follow white collar rules, it inhibits effective Kaizen, employee engagement and employee motivation. This inhibits cost reduction and profit maximization.

How successful is culminated, one step, one worker at a time?

A company is built up by a culmination of individual efforts. Section to department to Company wide. This is something Toyota have been doing from the beginning. It`s nothing special, it is just the way of doing business in Lean environment or enterprise. Material costs are pre-determined by the market. Therefore, the strategy has to be increase performance rates to increase profit while providing customer satisfaction.

Explain the Key in Toyota Production System of Waste Elimination.

When busy, it is very difficult to reduce waste, implement continuous kaizen and lean 5s consistently. After the Lehman shock, it became easier to do this as one of the companies I was working with end up with lower production demands. The results have been impressive. Although, we have not reached our pre-Lehman production levels, the profit level of this business has been increasing rapidly. This is the power of the Toyota Production System fundamentals of Standardization, Just-In-Time manufacturing, lean 5s and continuous kaizen.

Finally unless we have vitalized front line workers, we cannot be successful. They are the ones who actually produce the product and the profit. Our job in management is to make them energized. The corporate culture must be vitalized. At the factory sites, I tell workers, you are the people who actually create profit through your skills and wisdom. Material costs are pre-determined by the market. How do we increase profits? You, through your skills and performance. Unless employees are motivated, we cannot create a good attractive company.

Managers, directors and supervisors must understand this or their system won`t work. Leadership Styles are important.

As a leader, I have to communicate the corporate vision to all members of the company and must show that we are very concerned about our vision and our future direction. Whenever I have time, I visit the Gemba of all divisions. I visit people. Because I am in a high position, If I call others to come, it`s not good. No, I go to them.

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