I was quite impressed with this case study of a lean supply chain initiative, written by Steve Crom, that appeared on the Supply Chain Management Review site. Other than the substantial reductions in inventory and cycle time, note these important qualitative results:
- Direct lines of communication between the parties involved: purchasing, planning, customer services, manufacturing, quality in both organizations, for quick response and problem solving.
- A sense of teamwork between organizations, the foundation for making breakthrough improvements that last.
These results cannot be drawn on a value stream map or expressed on a spreadsheet. These accomplishments rely on the people running the process and influencing the culture of the transformation.
Note some of the requirements to maintain and replicate the process:
- Select suppliers who share in the belief that more is to be gained by working in partnership than in traditional, arms-length relationships.
- Pick the team leader carefully, interpersonal skills are key.
- Appoint a full-time project coordinator.
Here is yet another instance in which the success clearly rests not only on particular employees technical skills, but their attitudes and interpersonal abilities. "Leading" here means making the important decisions AND possessing the ability to communicate and inspire.
Does your organization cultivate leaders who inspire responsibility and partnership?