The Fallacy of Lean and Economic Downturns

I have some posts from the archives that I’d like to share this week.  This post was originally published on November 13, 2008.  Enjoy!

I’ve seen a lot of people who are concerned for their jobs, who have lost their jobs or who know their jobs are going away.

Recently I had a discussion regarding my team’s function in the organization, and that we are secure because of the climate. When things go south, that’s when you really need your Lean leaders to help right the ship and bring savings home to maintain profitability.

I call shenanigans on that line of thought.

We need our Lean leaders to be the most engaged when times are at their best! We need to be out front, leading the discussions when people are least interested in listening.

No business I have encountered has ever said, “Nah, we don’t need that $50,000. Go ahead and throw it in the trash.” At least, not ones that stay around long.

While we can use this opportunity to “reset” our perspective and drive Lean thinking, we need to do so just as hard in the good times. When we don’t, we end up in times, well, like these.

What would your companies position be today if you increased OI 5% a year over the last 10 years? Or just reduced waste by 25% Think you would be better positioned in the market?

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