On Being Lean and Mean

In Strategy Resources by Brandt A. HandleyLeave a Comment

For Middle Market CEOs, there is not a dollar to waste in Operations. Waste of any kind, in fact, is the bane of their existence. That’s why lean business principles are ideally suited for Middle Market firms.

What Does it Mean to be Lean?

Put simply, being lean means having a constant focus on finding and eliminating waste, wherever it happens to be lurking in your organization. Mr. Shawn Kaul, President of Lean Synergy International, an ROI Strategic Partner, explains “Waste is anything that doesn’t add value. If your customer doesn’t pay you to do it, it’s waste.”

Is Lean Just for Manufacturing?

While the lean movement started in manufacturing, the principals can be applied to any discipline. “It’s about a mindset,” Kaul says. “It’s a conviction of, and commitment to, continual improvement and constantly seeking out and eliminating waste. Just look at your processes and ask yourself ‘Why do we do this?’ If the process doesn’t add value, figure out how to make it stop!”

How Can the Middle Market Implement Lean Principles?

Larger companies frequently get their suppliers on board, too, so that the process is lean from start to finish. Middle Market companies may not have that kind of influence. But they can still apply lean principles to the things they can control. Kaul refers to inventory as an example: “The only time you need inventory is when customers expect to get your product faster than you can make it. If they expect a two-day turnaround, and you have a two-day production cycle, you don’t really need inventory. Maybe you can’t control how long it takes your suppliers to get the raw materials to you, but you can control how long it takes you to make your product once you have those materials. If you reduce waste, you reduce production time, and you can then reduce inventory.”

How Do You Get Lean?

What’s the message for Middle Market CEOs? Don’t be intimidated by the size of the lean task. You may not be able to spend the time or money to do a company-wide lean analysis and implementation, but don’t let that keep you from starting. Do what you can, when and where you can. Or hire a consultant like Kaul to help. Every bit of waste eliminated makes your business stronger. So, ask yourself this question: “Is my operation lean and mean?” If not, your giving profits away!

So what’s in the Mighty Middle Market for me? — get it right now at www.Go4ROI.com.

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