Without any doubt teams are in the heart of lean manufacturing. But why sometimes they are successful and sometimes they are not? Something every organization must think about. So we will start from understanding the concept of team in lean context. In lean the team is a unit equipped and empowered to satisfy their internal or external customers. But as an organization all of it teams needs to align to cater its customer’s requirements. So from the eyes of the customer the organization is a single team.
Many people and managers build teams around departments of their interest. For an example they will work on building an excellent design team or a manufacturing team. Yes these are very good teams. But these teams if not aligned to the requirement of the organization can do more harm than good. In lean context this is known as sub optimization. For an example, the design team can come up with an excellent design but the manufacturing department will not be able to manufacture it. At the end organization dose not achieve anything from this exercise.
Lean manufacturing starts with its concepts and driven through leaders who live the values of the organization. The leadership must make sure all the teams are aligned to the requirement of the organization. All the teams must pull in the same direction the organization wants not in their own directions. Building teams without proper leadership and vision can lead to problems. So make sure your team building efforts are backed by solid leaders who understand requirements of your customers and live the vision of your organization.