By Jon Miller | Post Date: March 24, 2007 9:46 PM | Comments: 0
Here is a follow up to reason #3 from of the post Here are 4.5 Signs that Your Lean May be L.A.M.E. from earlier this week. I could think of 12 reasons to tell customers about your Lean manufacturing efforts.
1. Customer behavior is the problem you need to solve next. Once your Lean effort has progressed to a point, next you will need to involve customers and suppliers. You might even say it is the problem you need to solve first but why don't we start with the mote in our own eyes. Saying "it's the customer's fault" isn't really helpful, since presumably your business exists because you are able to satisfy a unique request that your customers have, even if their request is a difficult one. If this was easy, anyone could do it.
4. Invite customers to join your kaizen workshops. This is a great way to find the waste of processing, one of the hardest wastes to find but easiest to get rid of once found. Many times the root cause is "just because" and the customer will be the first one to tell you that a process adds no value to them, or is over-processed.
5. Build in your reputation for built in quality. Let your customers talk about how they know your products are good because of the way you design and produce them, not because of warranties you tack on at the end to fix the ones that got through.
6. Make your customers think twice about taking their business elsewhere.
7. Hold yourselves accountable. There's nothing like telling your customer "You'll see a kanban system functioning between your warehouse and this production line in the next 60 days" to keep you honest and on track. Your customer won't accept excuses that your managers will.
8. Get Lean into the heads of the salesmen and deal makers. Talking with your customers about your Lean efforts will require the people who deal most directly with customers every day to keep a clear idea of what Lean is all about in their minds at all times.
9. Getting your customers to think Lean creates a "pull" or an expectation from them to make you continuously improve and keep up your Lean efforts. "Our customers require that we do this" is no longer lip service.
10. Borrow expert knowledge from your customers. During your kaizen activities or at any point in your Lean implementation when you are using a cross functional team, invite one of your customers to participate, preferably someone who fills a skill or experience gap you have. In exchange for hands-on experience in Lean implementation they receive, they will give you their fresh ideas and expertise on how to solve technical problems you may have. Who knows, maybe they already fixed that problem at another supplier.
11. Finally get that doggone design change approved. Those engineering specs you were sure "they're never gonna change" can become Lean roadkill when it's either a customer requirement to change it, or no longer a customer requirement to maintain it. If it's not Lean, and it deserves changing, there's nothing like the voice of the customer to provide authority.
These are all from the perspective of a supplier to an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and not from an OEM to an end user. I don't know how well these would apply to a software company, a hospital or a restaurant. Ideas welcome.Comments are moderated to filter spam and inappropriate content. There may be a delay before your comment is published.