Ambitions of emulating the lean processes and culture embedded in well known companies like Toyota, Honda and Nissan are often compromised by immediate imperatives for cost and margin improvement, coupled with a lack of real understanding of the investment and re-alignment required to do so meaningfully.
It is thus acknowledged that ‘becoming lean’ is a journey, rather than a destination. Moreover it is why so many ‘lean journeys” stutter, stall, and fail to deliver beyond the initial phase – during which most gains were made for reasons almost entirely disconnected with ‘going lean’.
“The truth is that high performance lean behaviours, and the results that are achieved from exhibiting them routinely, do not come through any of the approaches that we’ve witnessed being sold by consultants, or lectured by business schools, or written about by so called ‘gurus’.
This is something I learned many years ago at Honda and my fellow co-founder Keith also understood from when working for a tier one supplier, and it is why our approach at Applied Acumen is different from everyone else! Since our formation in 2002, companies working with Applied Acumen have experienced an average double-digit increase in ROCE directly linked to our programmes.
Moreover, these are organisations with ordinary employees, but by following our methodology are now doing extraordinary things day after day, routinely. “ Richard Shipperbottom, co-founder Applied Acumen Limited
If this resonates with you, or you wish to avoid such a fate, call the experts at Applied Acumen.
What makes you so expert?
We’ve not written books, or taken exams, or followed a fad because it sold well. Our expertise comes instead from the very origins of lean: the people who taught Unipart how to run a warehouse efficiently, JLR how to make cars efficiently, and a European supply base the meaning of just in Time. Honda did so without the benefit of Toyota’s massive scale, or requiring a bailout from Nissan-owning Renault whose CEO openly admits his admiration for Honda’s unique business acumen.
Our co-founder Richard Shipperbottom was responsible for the development and smooth running of the “Just-In-Time” assembly line control systems at Honda’s manufacturing operation in the UK, training initially in Japan before contributing to what remains one of the finest and leanest supply chain operations in existence today, a supply chain that co-founder Keith Armstrong was also a part of at Rieter Automotive.
Our lean journey has stalled, what can we do?
A common symptom of having relied upon a simple technical implementation, often one espoused by consultants (easy) and preferred (understood) by managers. Installation of the elements of a basic ‘plan-do-review’ operating system and some supervisory education will have yielded early gains, but concurrently installed a perception that performance is now ok: you have all the tools in place, measures in place, maybe a CI manager or 2.
So with dwindling returns, searching for answers, you blame complexity and try to simplify, pulling out of difficult or low margin sales, or try to automate. Or you blame lack of engagement, of leaders, or of workers, and embark on a programme of ‘hearts and minds’. Or you blame incompetence of managers, and you restructure, move people around, or out, because they ”don’t get it”.
This is the most dangerous place you can be.
Your early wins will be clouding your judgement. It is time to rethink the approach, and do none of the above.
Your one option is to re-analyse your business with a fresh pair of eyes. You might not like what we have to say, but there again, you just might.
We are lean – so how do we make more savings?
Get a fresh pair of eyes to re-analyse your business. New technology is now available that can provide incredible insights that weren’t available to us even 12 months ago.
Moreover, even the most experienced lean practitioners become blind to the opportunities that may exist, and it takes uncommon wisdom to recognise when to take a step back and even rarer humility to accept the possibility to learn again.
- “Big data” insights can be combined with practical reporting to help you target savings
- Challenge your team’s assumptions
- Provide a safe environment to push the boundaries of performance
Call us to find out how new technology can provide new insights
We are a service organisation, how can we go lean?
It is easier than you think. It all starts with a conversation…call us to find out
Do you do lean training?
Yes. We deliver bespoke lean work shops, and also Six Sigma belt training.
Our training is also accredited with the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), which means your staff gain valuable qualifications whilst learning how to add more value in the work place.
Call us to find out more about how our training can benefit your business.
We want to go lean, where do we start?
You have already started simply by stating that desire! The start point is different for every business however – so it is always worthwhile talking through and understanding your options (this costs nothing, and not every answer involves answering with a project from Applied Acumen!).
For an open and honest exploratory discussion on how to start your lean journey, call us.