Advertising – A direct result of being non lean

In today’s world there is a huge industry created by the many marketers allover the world with the power of media. This is the empire of advertising. There are different forms of advertising, media and methods of advertising available. Advertising can be used for different purposes. Advertising can be used to sell products, to build brand name for a product or just to make the presence in the market. But why most of the manufacturers and marketers require advertising. That is to sell their products.

Of cause there is a heavy competition in the market. Any manufacturer must keep reminding people about their products or services. But as a customer what would you get out from these advertisements. This is what every manufacturer or a service provider should ask themselves if they are on a lean movement.

Manufacturers are not going to simply reduce their cost of advertising from their profit margins. They will add it to the product you are buying. So you will be paying a fair percentage of the price not for actual value of the product but for the advertisements you see on TV or on a news paper or in a magazine. Ever thought about this? Isn’t it interesting to understand that we are paying for those colorful and lovely advertisements we see daily, second after second as customers.

When any manufacturers produce more than the requirement of the market he has to force the market to buy his product. When everyone does it, every one will do the same and will fall in to the endless loop of trying to beat the other with advertisements. This is known as over production in lean manufacturing context. When manufacturing happens before market requires it, in quantities which are higher than the requirement there is over production. This is one of the prime reasons to have higher work in progress in your manufacturing facility. Once produced the next challenge is to sell the products since there is no real demand in the market for that particular product. This will mean extensive advertising and special offers etc, etc.

Lean proposes to produce the goods when they are required by the market and in quantities which are required by the market. This is the base for pull manufacturing. Product is pulled by the demand created by the customer. Here there is no need for advertising to sell your products. No stock holding costs, WIP and other related issues.

Think about it. What is the price your customers are willing to pay when they are buying your product? Will they be willing to pay for those adds appear?

Lean thinkers, should they be single track thinkers?

The heart of lean manufacturing is lean thinking. In the heart of lean thinking is the lean thinkers who align their thinking patterns with lean manufacturing concepts and principles. In a way lean thinking is formatting the thinking patterns such that problems are identified, analyzed and solved in the lean way. But should they be single trackers in their thinking. In other words should all the people in your organization think in the same way?

Just for a moment think about great people and their specialties. In this world all the outstanding personalities have challenged the existing systems and practices and they have proposed and implemented alternatives for those. All the great religious leaders, political leaders like Mahatma Gandhi are examples of their differences in thinking and practicing what they believed as correct. On the other hand Taichii Ohno who is the guru of Toyota production system later became lean manufacturing, challenged age old techniques of bulk manufacturing and economy of scale concepts and changed the manufacturing world upside down. So why all of your employees should think in the way a manager does, or at least similarly? The real power of humans lies in their thinking. So why by any means someone should try to format all the people in the same mould.

One reason can be to handle people easily. In a situation where all the employees think similarly, there are no conflicts between them in their work, especially they will not have any conflicts with their managers. So what an organization would get out of this? A group of employees who are very good at their day to day work, a workplace without conflicts and culture of non arguing and acceptance of ideas. But what an organization would miss in this scenario? They will miss the path to their long term success. Challenging ideas outside the scope of thinking will not be generated or will not be encouraged if not penalized. They will happily do what they do, and will try to improve in their limited scope.

This is not what lean thinking promotes. It is the free thinking and looking for new way of doing things, but with the guidance of core disciplines of lean. If in an implementation of lean, if lean thinking is used to carbon copy the manager’s mindset to the others it is not other than inability of manager to handle people. In simple terms this is poor management. Managers and lean leaders must be skilled enough to promote the advantages of lean and meanwhile listen to the others and change with the suggestions of the others.

People are great when they are on their own. They can do wonders for your organizations. So do not make them handicaps mentally. Definitely not in the name of lean manufacturing. Personally I love to see people asking me the question WHY, although it makes me uncomfortable at times. I know they will make the organization a better place one day.

ICC Cricket World Cup is On

Many of you might at least heard about a sport called cricket. For my visitors who are from UK and India there is no need for introduction. But my US friends might have to learn little bit more on this topic.

ICC cricket world cup is the event which will crown the Kings of Cricket for coming four years; this is the equivalent of FIFA world cup. Confused with content? You are reading learnlean Blog, do not worry. With cricket fever is catching the world fast; I think there is something every lean manufacturer can learn from the latest trends of cricket.

In early 1990’s a score of 230-240 was very good batting first and it was considered a hard target for the opponents. But in the mid 1990’s things changed. Unlike batsman in old days who thought they should survive and meanwhile collect whatever runs possible, some teams introduced a new concept to batting which made the game upside down. Teams started thinking every ball they face as a scoring opportunity not as something to survive. What was the result? People started chasing even 300+ scores and in some extreme cases, recently a team successfully chasses 430+ score to win. Although there are some changes in rules helped in to some extend it was mainly the mindset change made this game very different. Any lesson for your organization here?

Yes, a simple change in mindset will create a huge boost in your organization. It does not require many resources or physical changes to your organization although there can be few changes required. Concepts, not just tools can drive you to success. Lean manufacturing not an exception.

Labor turnover and implications on lean manufacturing process

People leaving any organization is nothing unusual in today’s context. People will do so for many reasons. But whatever the reasons are is it good from the organizational point of view, especially from a lean organization point of view?

Lean manufacturers are process oriented. So it is safe to call lean manufacturers does not affected by labor turnover like a traditional organization does, technically. But the reality is, in whatever circumstances when one leaves, it is very hard to fulfill the gap of knowledge, no matter how good your processes are. Especially in a lean environment where there is heavy teambuilding is required, team synergy is very important this will mean a lot than for a traditional organization.

While thinking about the effect of people leaving a lean organization, I have to ask an additional question. Why people leave a lean manufacturer? If this is a frequent occurrence, are you truly a lean manufacturer? I believe anyone should ask this question them selves before finding answer for the first question we discussed. One of the corner stones of lean manufacturing is respect for people. Most of the people leave their jobs not because they want better salaries and packages although that can be one reason. Most of the people leave organizations due to various frustrations they face in their day-to-day work or unfair treatment and so on. So if this is same in your organization, I believe you can not consider yourself as a lean manufacturer.

People are the most important factor in lean manufacturing. In fact without them there will not be an organization to function. So respect them.