After all the hype is over, is it possible to save money with Lean?
I hear all the time about companies saving huge amounts of money as a result of their Lean initiatives. As a so-called â€œLean expertâ€, I am always a little leery when I hear these kinds of extravagant claims from companies who have just started doing “Lean”. The next question that most people ask is â€œWhy are you not happy with companies who like to share how much money they saved by implementing Lean or Lean Six Sigma?â€ Actually, this is a very easy question to answer if someone really understands what lean is really focused on.
Lean is not a process that is focused on saving or spending money. In fact, it really has nothing to do with money. Lean has one clear objective and that is converting muda or waste into value for the customer. Money, profit or savings to the bottom line are the long term effects of identifying and eliminating waste. Why is this?
The implementation of Lean principles into any business requires a culture change. Without a shift in the culture any Lean implementation will fail. Lean consists of a series of tools and all they can do is help a team to identify and eliminate waste to improve a process. However, to achieve the long term sustainment of these improvements it is necessary for organizational behavior to change. At the point that these changes are evident in the business culture, the financial savings will start to hit the bottom line. Until then it is a game with numbers and all just pie in the sky!