Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Is our team really lean?

from Evolving Excellence
"The featured article on Superfactory in January is a piece by one of the heavyweights of the lean movement, Richard Schonberger, titled The Skinny on Lean Management. His primary point deals with how lean affects sales and marketing, and he decidedly takes traditional accounting to task as well.

Lean management doesn’t resonate in marketing and sales. Nor does it among boards, senior executives and investors. Reasons relate to where lean tends to do most of its work - in operations - and its usual presentation as an attack on waste. Obscured are its much greater potential in the distribution pipelines and its strong customer focus.
What lean does, above all else, is provide quick, flexible response to customer demand. But muddling that message are perverse accounting practices that discourage quick delivery well matched to customer usage.

It was one of his final statements that really surprised me.
Wal-Mart is the world’s grand champion of lean supply chains. While advanced IT gets most of the credit, collaboration is the foundation. Wal-Mart’s 2,000-odd suppliers near the retailer’s Bentonville, Ark., headquarters maintain multifunctional teams on site. Daily, along with their Wal-Mart counterparts, they work out pricing, packaging, logistics, promotions, product options, product coding, weights and measures,"

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