12.06.2006

Are your managers roadblocks to lean?

Sometimes the biggest challenge in a lean transformation is management itself. In some cases, top management may not be fully behind your initiatives. In others, middle managers may resist change and undermine your efforts. Or maybe management just doesn’t understand what lean is all about.


 


Some examples:



  • Your manager puts you in charge of a lean initiative, saying “we’ll try it for a month.”
  • Your manager insists that he or she must approve all improvements proposed by a team.
  • Your accounting manager or CFO says lean isn’t working because unit cost increased.

Those are just a few. I’m sure there are many, many more.


 


Do you have a lean management problem? You’re not alone. Share your problem on the blog and read what problems others have. Then we’ll all try to come up with ideas that may help.


 


Register, log in and post a comment. Let’s use the blog to help each other.

15 comments:

Ralph Bernstein said...

IMPORT
12/6/2006 4:23:16 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?
By: chess000

My biggest challenge with my middle manager is trying to agree on the conditions that make up a product family. It is difficult to have someone change their mindset on what has traditionally been classified as a family. Many times, we have determined this by size or function rather than by the process steps and cycle times. Our facility makes nearly 2000 different products and determining which of those fit into what families has proven extremely difficult.

Ralph Bernstein said...

IMPORTED
12/6/2006 4:54:13 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?
By: dlankford

I have a new manager that wants to build up inventory even though he understands that we should be building JIT. The area we have cleaned out for finished goods is no longer large enough and now they want to put finished goods in several different locations.

Ralph Bernstein said...

IMPORTED
12/6/2006 5:06:39 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?
By: WindowVP

Getting plant production personnel to buy into developing team leaders and taking the time to document production on a consistant basis is a stumbling block. Fallling back to the need to get product out the door on time is superceding documentation. It looks like it will take a mandate to accomplish this.

Ralph Bernstein said...

IMPORTED
12/6/2006 5:13:32 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?
By: leanblog

At my company the direct labor productivity metric is the main decision making point for any activity at the plant. As such there is alot of management resistence to using operators to work on lean activity. It is beleived by most of the management team that lean activities will not pay off in direct labor productivity improvement. And it is true that if I use direct labor for a kaizen event the department will take a direct labor productivity hit in the month the event occured. This is especially true if we are working on flow improvement, 5S, Visual management, LTA which may never improve direct labor productivity. Over several years this culture remains an obstical to Lean.

Ralph Bernstein said...

IMPORTED
12/6/2006 6:26:53 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?
By: katherine lee

Responsibility-authority = frustration. That's the equation for our facility. The management wants the facility to change, but they give the lean tools tasks to folks like me who the work force perceives as "just a coach" I have no stroke and therefore can not get anything productive done that will last. I am not sure if this is a way of management reinforcing their worth with the belief that they must "bless" everything before it gets implemented, but it sure feels like it!"

Ralph Bernstein said...

IMPORTED
12/7/2006 1:35:04 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?
By: ecovington

I feel for all the above especially Katherine, we have had great success implementing kaizen events but they never stick due to management indifference. Upper management seems all for Lean but does not seem to control middle management.

Ralph Bernstein said...

12/7/2006 2:25:51 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?
By: Bryan

Management culture and behavior is infinitely greater to change through persuasion than when dealing with people on the shop floor. I have found that the only way management culture changes is when they see the benefits as a result of their own efforts using lean tools and techniques, not through logical persuasion.

Ralph Bernstein said...

IMPORTED
12/7/2006 3:36:50 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?
By: BENJER

Senior management talks up lean thinking but after I've invested a lot of effort and convinced our union to create a production cell where people can move to where the work is at any time of the day, senior management (VP level) insists that the operation be separated into ridgid boxes that don't allow people to work across the lines. I need to find some reference authority to try to persuade him that this is regressing. Any suggestions?

Ralph Bernstein said...

IMPORTED
12/7/2006 3:57:20 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?By: mgraban

You have to be careful with the "blame game". Pointing fingers up at your execs and down at your supervisors/employees can be a dangerous game if it becomes an excuse to not try harder. Norman Bodek talks about this in my most recent Podcast with him (www.leanpodcast.org), episode #11.

Ralph Bernstein said...

IMPORTED
12/11/2006 2:00:18 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?
By: LivingLean

Mid-level management (not so much managers as much as Supt / Supervisors) are always the roadblocks. I have found that the best way to get past this is to: #1 form a team to establish / deploy the necessary tools / processes and weekly report the progress to the OCM (hand feed them) #2 once you get past this point, begin the transition of responsibilities and the managers begin to report out the progress weekly to the Plant Manager (with minimal assistance from the team) / the team then trasitions to a coaching / validation role #3 it is also very important that you recognize the production teams (hourly/salary) as they hit key milestones

Ralph Bernstein said...

IMPORTED
12/12/2006 7:10:31 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?
By: rob@advinfomgt.com

Well, after read the comments here I'm beginning to feel better. At least I'm not alone in the battle! Sr Management has decreed that we shall be lean, and ISO, and .... But in actuality the floor is sort of like an old fashined assembly line, it keeps on chugging along without change and the assumption that everything can be "fixed" at the end of the line. What we've been doing for the last 15 years was good enough then, so it's good enough now! All that after lean training on-site and a simulation that made a true believer out of me. I didn't think it would change much, but the potential exposed wa huge. OK, so 100% of it won't translate into real-life, but is that any reason to throw it out the window?

Ralph Bernstein said...

IMPORTED
12/14/2006 4:45:28 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?
by: jcc

I agree with Bryan, the key to changing behavior in line management and middle management is through actual experience using the tools. Our top leadership is committed to lean transformation, as a result, all of our managers are required to participate in a 3 month Lean Internship. During the internship they are focused fulltime on helping with kaizen events and learing about lean as a business system. At the end of the 3 months they have a future state VSM and kaizen plan in place to improve their product line.

Ralph Bernstein said...

IMPORTED
1/8/2007 3:14:43 PM
Re: Are your managers roadblocks to lean?
By: Fred Webberking

Question: Are your managers roadblocks to lean? Answer: Yes. Why are your managers roadblocks to lean? Why do we have the answer to the first question and the not the answer to second that is asked of the first answer? Is it becuase is it is requires a single answer, a multiple of answers, a combination of answers as to why managers are roadblocks to lean: Fear of losing control, empowering power to subordinates? Blinkered to the demands of just getting out production? Resistance to change? Lean was a 'calling' for me for answers that I did not have questions for. We are responsible to call others to lean, but how? I completely agree with other 'lean thinkers' here that uninitiated managers to lean should undergo a company driven formal re-education of themselves from accredited educational institutions on lean. I have broken with others and connected with others long term associations of thinking that is permitting me to type this letter without even having to look down at the keyboard for the keys - that is the answer...

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