Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lean is NOT Common Sense

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How many times have you heard that lean is “just common sense?”  Over the years, I’ve noticed that those who say this are generally the ones who resist lean the most.  Referring to lean as nothing more than common sense is often an excuse to ignore transformation and continue to do things in the same way.
Depending on your frame of reference, common sense can tell you to:
  • build inventory to handle changes in demand or chronically late deliveries;
  • set individual goals for people (and tie closely to bonuses and performance reviews) in order to improve performance;
  • run large batches to deal with long setup times and continued stockouts;
  • reduce costs by pressuring suppliers to drop prices;
  • address problems by looking for solutions rather than countermeasures
Lean is a very different way of thinking for most people and requires significant transformation of individuals and the organization in order to be successful.  Before this transformation begins to occur, many aspects of lean thinking will actually appear counter to common sense.  Do not let anyone hide behind the “common sense” shield during the transformation.

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