Q: My previous employer did Lean. I was there for 5 years and they were still going. How can I possibly believe that you are going to deliver results in weeks to months as you promised?
A: You will often hear Lean practitioners state that “Lean is a journey, not a destination”. We agree. Unfortunately, it can take a long time on that journey to achieve substantial results using standard Lean methods. It is a very methodical approach, and there are plenty of success stories published to show that it works. The problem is that it just takes so dang long! We also subscribe to the journey metaphor. However, using a focused approach leads to enormous positive improvement in a much shorter time. One reason for this is that the focused approach doesn’t force you to completely redesign your production floorplan and “balance the line”. It just identifies the constraint(s) and deals with it/them in a manner that provides the most benefit to the bottom line.
Q: Your Services page says that your main "total improvement" service will be focused on 1 of 3 business models. I’d say that my business is a hybrid of all 3 models. How would you handle that?
A: Yes, that is probably an overly simplified explanation. In fact, one could argue that every manufacturing organization also has a distribution component. And most also do some type of project work (e.g. new product design). So, the short answer is that if you have a hybrid organization, we would use a hybrid approach. All techniques we employ are compatible, and sometimes complementary, with each other. And we never use a canned approach anyway. Every solution is customized to fit your specific situation.
Q: How fast can you really see improvement with your “focused” approach?
A: While not a FocusOPEX project, the most incredible focused improvement story that comes to mind was a 10% increase in productivity in 15 minutes! As the story goes, a Leaner-than-Lean automotive supplier was struggling to meet demand. They were looking for ways to increase capacity without the prohibitive cost of a new equipment purchase but couldn’t visualize a way to do so. An experienced TOC practitioner came in, walked the production floor, identified the constrained resource, then simply said “don’t ever let this machine sit idle”. Evidently, it was idled about 10% of the time due to breaks and shift changes. They simply had to make a small adjustment to work schedules so that it kept running over breaks and shift changes. They were able to implement this change immediately once identified. Focus is powerful…and fast!