That dog won't hunt...for long!

Friday, October 14, 2016

AME Author, Chair, Target Editorial Board,

I’ve noticed that when organizations start a continuous improvement journey they may not have a clear understanding of what their long term goal is. If you look at many of the press releases and headlines you see they are listing their savings because they have deleted some process steps and run the numbers through their accounting team to validate them. Everyone’s happy. That’s all well and good, but if that is all they are looking for then the joy will be short lived.

That Dog won’t Hunt is a saying that comes to mind. What it means is that the dog will get bored with what’s going on and lose interest in hunting. The same for a continuous improvement /lean project lead by someone in manufacturing. The visual savings will diminish, usually over a few years, and upper management will be looking for a new approach to cut costs or improve productivity. Or else new management will be brought in to “fix” the company!

My big concern is that a continuous improvement/lean strategy is way more complex than a set of tools to reduce manufacturing labor and material costs. It is the mantra of how to run the entire company. We need to be looking at the market, the customers, and the future customers focusing on how the company needs to change in this rapidly changing world! So lean principles need to be followed in all departments and at all levels. The CEO /President does need to believe this mantra and support it wholeheartedly by being the living example of how to think and act. Establishing a Lean Management System in the company is a great benchmark that shows leadership understands defining expectations and the standard work processes that drive the lean strategy.

Then This Dog will Hunt!