Casspeat & Company
Global operations


Lean is better not taken as a box of tools if anybody wants to run it seriously. While some tools do give good results Lean is not much worth the effort of implementing unless it ushers in a new company culture which then serves as the basis of competitiveness and profitability. An island structure in Lean management has the sure effect of channelling some good into the morass of many weaknesses but the overall result can still be frustration and disillusion. Casspeat implements Lean as a system, as a value with the effect of robust waste elimination, and as a culture evenly spread out within a company. We would rather not cherry-pick from among Lean tools but design and implement an appropriate Lean culture in toto to achieve the fast flexible flow. This process make take several months, even years, but its effects are tremendous.
At certain companies having gone or going through the recession and suffering a serious setback in volumes and/or living in an environment of high demand variability and/or having reached a decision to increase their service quality at the expense of some of their cost initiatives -- Lean and Lean Sigma are often colored with the need to become Agile (originating in the IT environment). Lean & Agile together mean nothing less than the never waning desire for continuous improvement (and as a part of it, a continuous alertness to deliberate in a changing environment).

It is hard not to see however that over the years there has also been a great deal of frustration at companies trying to implement Lean. Many did not get along at all, some hit a mark in 5S but could not really maintain let alone push forward, others have certain tools introduced but more lip service and cover-up are done than real results gained. In these cases, certainly, something went wrong somewhere which needs to be critically assessed, lessons learnt and with credible goals set and shared, the process needs to be set on foot again.

The build-up and the logic behind the implementation of a Lean enterprise range, briefly, from basic demand smoothing and stabilization measures, continue in Value Stream Mapping, 6S, TPM and standardized flow management and ideally arrive at a problem solving culture of some depth. Agility demands an additional ability to make informed tradeoffs both at the strategy level and in strategy execution.
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