Sustaining Lean: Case Studies in Transforming Culture

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Sustaining Lean: Case Studies in Transforming Culture
Sustaining Lean: Case Studies in Transforming Culture

Contents
Introduction............................................................................................ix
Chapter 1 The Case for Lean Culture: Sustain the gains from
your lean conversion........................................................... 1
David Mann, Ph.D.
Chapter 2 Leading the Working Culture Revolution....................... 19
John Woods and Robert W. Hall
Chapter 3 Thriving on Continuous Learning at
Hewlett-Packard America’s Software Manufacturing
(ASM): It’s more than a strategy — it’s their culture...... 33
Lea A.P. Tonkin
Chapter 4 Batesville Casket Company’s Culture of Continuous
Improvement: Innovation, creativity — and yes,
listening to the voice of the customer — are alive
and well here ..................................................................... 43
Lea A.P. Tonkin
Chapter 5 5S at Deceuninck North America’s Monroe Site:
Sustaining and Improving the Gains: 5S is the
foundation for culture change and continuing
improvements ................................................................... 51
Cash Powell Jr. and Steve Hoekzema
Chapter 6 Team-Centered, Continuing Improvements at
General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems:
Teamwork and a long-term commitment to
continuous improvement make the difference............... 65
Jim Tennessen and Lea A.P. Tonkin
Chapter 7 Re-Making Furniture Making at Hickory Chair
Company: Their “secret weapon”: employees................. 75
Deborah Porto and Michael Smith, PhD
Chapter 8 Stable Chaos: Leading Change in the Fast Lane........... 107
Douglas F. Carlberg
Chapter 9 How Human Resource Departments Can Help
Lean Transformation...................................................... 119
Dr. Monica W. Tracey and Jamie W. Flinchbaugh
Index..................................................................................................... 129

Introduction
One of the most widely recognized challenges facing companies adopting a lean strategy is how to sustain initial momentum and develop a corporate culture with a built-in, ongoing commitment to that strategy. The chapters in this book provide some insights as to how that can be achieved. These chapters were originally published as articles in the well-regarded magazine Target, published by the Association for Manufacturing Excellence. Most of the articles chosen for this collection are case studies; a few more broadly discuss the issues involved in long-term cultural transformation. In Chapter One, David Mann, Ph.D., author of the book Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions, discusses just what it means to have a lean culture. He explains the importance of the lean conversion of management systems, as well as production processes, and he describes the need to achieve that conversion through the proper sequence of steps, as well as what questions to ask.

In a similar vein, Chapter Two talks about the “working culture gap” between a typical non-lean organization with a structured flow of operations and an organization that is habitually learning. The focus in this chapter is on leadership, and how leaders must understand and support process excellence, encourage a thinking culture, set strategic direction and create the proper structure.

A case study of an organization that works to achieve all this is the subject of Chapter Three – specifically, Hewlett-Packard America’s Software Manufacturing division. Learn in this chapter how the division’s employees, led by committed leaders, use training, tools and well-defined goals to sustain their culture.

Batesville Casket Company, the focus of Chapter Four, is also a company that works hard to sustain its culture. This chapter describes how that culture is defined as Daily Continuous Improvement, as well as the company’s very strong focus on listening to the voice of the customer. At Deceuninck North America, the company described in Chapter Five, a culture of continuous improvement is based on a foundation of 5S. While 5S is often viewed as simply one lean tool, the cultural changes and work habits it helps establish can have far-reaching effects in bringing about cultural transformation.

A team-centered approach is at the heart of continuous improvement at General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, explained in Chapter Six. Key elements include permanent factory teams, temporary kaizen teams, and strong communication among all teams and all employees. How a struggling company in a declining market turned itself around is the story told in Chapter Seven. Hickory Chair Company, through strong and dedicated leadership as well as a new culture of empowered employees, avoided traveling the outsourcing route chosen by many in its industry, managing not only to maintain U.S. operations but to do so profitably. At M2 Global, the focus of Chapter Eight, new business demands prompted the company to pursue a multi-pronged effort to redefine itself. That effort included tapping into the knowledge and expertise of the workforce, finding a better manufacturing philosophy, and embracing an adaptation of quality function deployment.

A fully engaged HR department can be valuable in sustaining lean culture, or so argue Dr. Monica Tracey and Jamie Flinchbaugh in Chapter Nine. Basing their comments about research on lean transformations, they offer specific recommendations to HR managers regarding their role in these transformations.

Whether you are in the early stages of building a lean culture or far along the journey, you face the challenge of sustaining that effort. The chapters in this book can be a valuable resource in meeting that challenge.

The Case for Lean Culture: Sustain the gains from your lean conversion There’s a missing link in most descriptions of lean manufacturing. It’s lean culture, and a lean management system to go with it. Management practices for lean and the lean culture that grows from them are like many other aspects of lean: easy to grasp but difficult to consistently execute. This article provides a framework to understand three related topics: the nature of lean and mass production cultures, how lean management practices differ from those in mass production, and the nature of the task in changing from mass to lean culture.

“Culture” and “management system” are used interchangeably in this article. The lean management system consists of the discipline, daily practices, and tools needed to sustain and extend lean implementations. Lean culture grows from these practices when the practices become habitual, a way of thinking or mindset. So, don’t focus on “culture” as a target. Focus instead on behavior, on habits and practices, extinguishing the old and reinforcing the new. As you prepare to do this, be aware that the task is formidable. The lion’s share of what it takes to make lean conversions longrunning success stories is the change in management systems from mass to lean.

First, consider lean production. Lean manufacturing is an idea whose time has come. Manufacturers the world over have recognized the advantages in leadtime, productivity, quality, and cost enjoyed by lean competitors in industry after industry. One of the attractive features of lean is that it’s so easy to understand. Customer focus, value stream organization, standardized work, flow, pull, and continuous improvement are readily grasped. Second, lean is typically not capital intensive; it relies on simple, singlepurpose equipment with minimal automation. Lean scheduling systems are equally simple and inexpensive, rarely requiring much if anything in the way of incremental IT investment. Finally, lean layouts and material flows are relatively straightforward to design and implement whether through redesign of entire value streams or more narrowly-focused kaizen events.


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