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Establishing lean manufacturing goals for your organization: Featured Article

Lean manufacturing is much more than just a type of business; it is a way of thinking and a lifestyle for many different business owners.Becoming a lean thinker is easier than many people think and that is part of the beauty of the whole process of going lean.Because lean manufacturing involves almost every aspect of the business, the goals that you set for being lean will also involve most or all of the parts of your business.The difficult part about implementing lean manufacturing is not in the concepts because they are generally very simple, but in the continual implementation of the ideas of lean manufacturing.Keeping momentum going is what will make your lean manufacturing operation successful over the long run and goals need to be implemented to accomplish this.

One of the most important concepts in lean manufacturing is to have a system of data collection and reporting set up so that you can measure how much waste is being produced by the company.In a paper called "The Balanced Scorecard - Measures that Drive Performance" the idea that data reporting systems are necessary for the essential measurements for a business to thrive.Evaluating a business from the perspective of lean manufacturing tries to answer the questions like "What do customers think of us? What internal processes must we be the best at? How can we improve? And what do shareholders think of us?"

Sometimes the process of becoming lean involves a great deal of "inward thinking" for the business.It demands that the business and the people involved open their minds and evaluate what is really important to them and how and why they want to accomplish certain things.Sometimes company culture can be dramatically affected implementing the principles of lean manufacturing.But in order to measure any kind of progress at all you have to know what you are going to measure and what you hope to gain from measuring that particular parameter.The planning phase is very important and if parts of it are skipped it may result in less than hoped for results later on down the road.

Helpful Resources:
1. Realistic Goals
In order to establish a goal that is realistic, there is a good deal of preparation that must be done first.Follow this link to read about the principles that you should keep in mind when setting a goal.

2. Suggestions on Goal Setting
If setting lean manufacturing goals is not something that you are comfortable with or you have not had success with your goal setting in the past, this company suggests some ways that they can help.

3. Basics of Lean Manufacturing
This PPT (PowerPoint) formatted document is an excellent reminder of the basics of lean manufacturing and therefore the base that goals should be formed on.Adding complex goals and plans is not the idea behind this concept.

4. Lean Enterprise Model
The Lean Enterprise Model is a good place to start when looking for effective strategies to make future goals for.This link provides the steps to follow which can easily be turned into a series of goals.

5. Establishing Goals
This PDF format of a PowerPoint presentation provides a helpful and visually entertaining way of explaining some of the strategies behind establishing lean manufacturing goals for your organization.

6. EPA
This site is sponsored by the EPA and is helpful because of the unbiased suggestions that it gives in order to aid companies in reducing waste (which reduces costs so everyone wins).

7. Lean Manufacturing Services
This website is home to another company that offers their services and backs those services with experience in how you can first establish and then implement and accomplish your lean manufacturing goals.

8. Winning Strategies
This site contains a list of key concepts of winning strategies.In this list of concepts, the goal establishment concept is mentioned many different times.Read how goals are not just a means to an end but an integral part of the whole process.

9. Goal and Trend Chart
A goal and trend chart is a chart created depending on the specific details of a goal.This chart is just one example of how goal making strategies, when implemented correctly, can help you lean manufacturing organization succeed.

10. Lean Manufacturing Goals
Follow this link to read more about how lean manufacturing goals are for every department in the organization, all that is needed is a combined vision that all of the goals share.Everyone should be working towards a similar organizational goal.

The thoughts of the business have to be organized in such a way that the managers and employees will be able to see a solid framework for the company and to easily identify the critical factors to be measured in the business.With a framework in place it is much easier to identify what needs to be done and what needs to be measured and how. Some companies have too many things that they measure and get overwhelmed with raw data and aren't sure what to do with it.Most manufacturing operations use five parameters to measure the business.They are safety, people, quality, responsiveness and financial performance.These measures tell you key things about what the business is doing and what people think of it after the fact.Remember that one of the main goals of lean manufacturing is to improve productivity and profits by reducing waste in all areas of the business.

After setting the parameters you want to measure in your business to evaluate then you need to develop a vision statement.Many businesses already have a vision statement of some kind, whether it is in the head of the founder of the company or a written document that is available for everyone to see and refer to.This vision statement is basically defining what success is to your business.And if you don't know what success is then how will you ever know you have achieved it when you do.There should be a vision statement for each of the five categories - safety, people, quality, responsiveness and financial performance.The vision statements of each should be succinct and define what is really important in that aspect of the business.The statements should relay what you want to customers, managers, employees and stockholders.The vision statements need to be consistent and work across the whole spectrum of the business and not conflict with each other.

After the vision statements of each parameter to be measured have been identified and outlined, you need to set goals for each of them.You should get the leadership that will be in charge of implementing the goals throughout the company together and have a meeting to discuss the processes or actions that support the vision statements.This doesn't need to be everyone in the company because eventually, the ideas will be passed down and communicated to the rest of the team anyway.It should involve the people in the company that really make a difference and will contribute the most to the goals.The goals should be established by determining how each process needs to change to improve them or bring them into alignment with the concepts of lean manufacturing and the vision statements.You need to be sure and identify a measurable output for each of the goals and also state a certain level that you wish to attain.As many people say, goals should be quantified and measurable so that progress can be properly measured.If there is more than one location where products are produced or more than one facility, then the leadership¬¬ from each location should be present for the goal setting process.If there is not a general buy in from the local management it will be very difficult for them to cooperate and to have the same goals as the company.Being involved in the goal setting process is very important for management.The goals that are made by management should focus on the things that are the most important for the compliance of the company to laws and regulations and also to the goals and vision of the company in general.

The next step of the process is to determine how the performance of the company in reaching the goals will be measured.This is very important for obvious reasons again.You can't measure progress unless you know what performance is and unless you have a consistent way of measuring performance.As a group you should also decide on the metrics that will be used for each goal statement established by the group.You should think of the results of the collection of data and what the numbers and figures will tell you that you need to know.Simple measures that are easy to determine and chart are better than complicated equations that take a lot of work and thought.The ways that you will be gathering information need to be established at this point as well because any differences in the way performance is measured can lead to very different conclusions about how successful a certain program or strategy really is.Even very small differences in the way information is gathered and analyzed can lead to very significant differences in the results of observation and study.The targets that have been established in your goals need to be numerical and should be accurate.You can measure percentages, actual figures, or ratios to determine the effectiveness of a system or practice.You should again keep in mind that the goal of having goals at all is to improve the performance of the company and to reduce waste.

You should also be able to plan your strategy and how you actually plan on accomplishing the goals and what will need to be done to do it.A goal written down but not committed to is not really a goal anyway.It may be a good idea to establish a strategy or approach statement that describes the major changes that will be worked on to improve and make the business more efficient.You also need to place emphasis and urgency on the goals by having a deadline attached to each statement.Develop a new reporting system is much less motivating than develop a new reporting system by May 25.The world will not end if you don't accomplish the goal by the prescribed date but you should try and make realistic dates for their accomplishment and stick to them.It is also a good idea to identify potential problems that could creep in and keep you from accomplishing a goal by a certain date or making it necessary to reevaluate the goal entirely.

Goals need to be able to evolve with your company and the way that you do business.You need to keep an open mind and be ready to change things that very obviously will not work or lead to improvements and also be willing to part with an idea that doesn't fit into the way you want to run the company.Losing the culture of the business for the sake of making it lean may not be worth the added benefit in the end especially if it causes people within the company to doubt if they have remained true to their original goals and aspirations.Make sure that a goal is right for you and be willing to change it, adapt it, or replace it if it doesn't fit into the vision statement of the company as a whole.

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