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What Comes First?

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

The Lean Journey: What Comes First?

By: Ben Roush There are many different approaches on “how” to successfully begin the lean journey. It is often the case we overthink our lean Implementation strategy. Is it better to focus on our management behaviors first? Or go directly to the shop floor and begin with the Kaizen workshop approach?

At the Dynamic Improvement Group we believe the best place to start is with good communications. All improvement processes, and their success, depend on solid lines of communication from top to bottom.

We are firm believers that the ability to change minds in the manufacturing arena cannot be done in a classroom alone. These changes must take place by being on the shop floor – where the game is being played.

Effective leadership in the lean journey includes removing the abstract and theoretical side of lean manufacturing. Even the lean Kaizen activities need to be structured and well organized. Giving your employees real, working, concrete examples is of the utmost importance. The operations group in our factories are a group of real ballroom dancers, where they learn by going through the motions.

Using the tools requires practice. Eliminating waste successfully, requires practice. Waste training and waste walks can be great for mature lean cultures. If you are new to this game, a better place to start might be talking about what cells are next, and what off-standard conditions need to be addressed within the next 24 hours.

As we begin our journey, immediate financial and physical results do bring a high level of legitimacy to our process. You can’t get anywhere standing still. This also centers the focus on discussing real issues, and not just the fancy theories we read about in books.

Consider the use of “force”. Can you really highlight your performance issue without eliminating the excessive inventory and labor waste? Many companies don’t even want to balance their operations cadence to a formal takt time.

This, however, limits gains in hard savings, inventory, and space. Being forced to fix issues permanently is one of the great lessons to be learned and applied in moving forward.

The companies that do not choose to accept this challenge typically are the ones that move on to the other lean tools and discussions, ignoring these crucial systems like standard manning levels and engineered inventory.

Do you and your team believe in the use of lean force?

We know that it is crucial for the production supervisors and colleagues to buy into this program, and we look forward to working with you and them. Practice, practice, and more practice.

So, have you asked yourself where you and your team are at in this journey?

Also, where do we start?

You’re invited to learn more at

Here’s an article that inspires us as we think about the lean journey and the role of leaders.

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