Many businesses looking to reduce operational waste may see lean practices as a perfect solution. Many times, these businesses do not fully understand lean. Director Mark D Anderson of Nevada Industry Excellence explains the many fallacies of lean and further defines the practice.

Fallacy #1: Implementation of Lean Practices rely only on Lean Tools

Businesses eager to implement lean jump to the conclusion that by simply plugging in the lean tools, a business can benefit from lean. In reality, lean starts with culture. Therefore, lean needs to work cohesively with an organization’s culture to be successful in the long run.

Fallacy #2: Lean Eliminates only 7 Forms of Waste

Those who have studied lean manufacturing know that the practice is about eliminating 7 types of waste:

  • overproduction
  • inventory
  • waiting
  • transport/conveyance
  • unneeded motion
  • overprocessing
  • defects

What many do not know, is that there is and 8th waste that significantly outweighs all 7 other wastes combined: unused employees creativity. It is critical that

companies set up an environment where employees at any level can develop ideas to help eliminate the other 7 forms of waste.

Fallacy #3: Lean Practices Rely on Experts Making Large Changes

Upper-level experts often view lean as a practice that is adopted from big kaizen events. A proper foundation is needed to sustain the long term lean changes. This is because, when the upper-level experts move on, those at the operational and daily level have had no input on the changes.metalworking reno

Basically, successful lean involves everyone, particularly those closest to the process. Operators have the most knowledge of there processes, and can provide valuable information on how the lean changes can succeed. Always involve them in the development of lean strategies.

Fallacy #4: The Newest Technology is Necessary

The fourth fallacy comes from the belief that the newest technology is always necessary. In reality, a business’s familiarity and knowledge with their technology is usually more effective than constant changes in tech. To effectively implement new technology, businesses should consider using these 3 steps:

  1. Work out the problem manually
  2. Establish discipline to follow processes
  3. Add technology in a strategic way

Remember that the value of a skilled workforce will always outlive each iteration of technology.

Fallacy #5 Lean only Applies to Manufacturing and Warehouse Departments

This is a commonly held misbelief. You should not view lean in such a narrow scope. Lean is a system. Other departments such as Finance, HR, and Sales can completely undo a business with an incredible manufacturing process. It is important that lean adopters determine what areas would most benefit from lean implementation. Furthermore, those looking to adopt should always consider the potential impact of lean across every section of the business.

Looking to improve your business process? Nevada Industry Excellence provides lean workshops and other helpful events every month.

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