Radical Lean Manufacturing

When I point out the complete vacuum on new ideas or a new strategy for the economy from progressives, I get challenged: so what’s your idea. I don’t have one idea, I have lots but here’s one as an example: 

Well personally I see radical potential, that no one else does, in something called Lean Manufacturing. Toyota invented it post war when they were getting going, and other companies have tried it but mostly their cultures are too resistant to do it properly. It is very threatening to the hierarchies of most organizations.

It basically says work process is best designed by the people in teams who do the work, with a very clear idea of/strong feedback loops from the customer for the work, next stage of the production process and end consumer, and very great respect for team members. And management and admin layers are kept to a minimum and only added by the value adders when they need it to better add value. One of my mentees for instance as well as her day job made her the finance consultant to a lean team of Ford line workers so they could see the cost benefit of different ideas. This would apply to any sort of work, academic, retail whatever.

But the hard part is that it has to go with profit sharing so there is something in it for the workers to eliminate waste from the production process and there has to be a state safety net for people displaced by efficiency, retraining, guaranteed income floor and a welfare state for health care etc. And means to fund all the work needed to fix the environment etc. that is not being done. Ditto elder care. And the Lean process might even see the planet as one customer. Any value add process is amenable to lean and I tried to get it into health care having supported it in Ford and in the US military logistics Agency. My consultants had even done it in a landscape gardening business and I have heard surgical teams try it.

But this is just an example of the sort of focus that is lacking. Currently value add work is an empty set across the political spectrum. I happen to know about Lean. Others may know something else. You also have to fix Wall Street to support this to make it more buy and hold shares and for that you need a Tobin Tax….and so on.

Anyway, my point is not to bang a drum for one specific idea but to say: innovative thinking like this please…. 

About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Processes, Economic Conflict, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Radical Lean Manufacturing

  1. kakatoa says:

    Decades ago I worked for a firm that received the “Shingo Prize” for our efforts to modify our culture from a goal oriented one to one more focused on improving processes. It appears that the metrics used to award the prize(s) has changed over the years as noted here- “A Continuing Lean Journey: The Shingo Prize at 25 — Discovering the power of principles in culture change”- https://www.lean.org/common/display/?o=2257

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