Twenty five years ago this fall, a team of MIT researchers, led by James Womack, published an article that first used the term “lean production” to describe groundbreaking findings about the Toyota Production System, and their business management practices. Lean, as we now know it, is a management and production practice that considers the use of resources, for any goal other than creating value for the end customer, to be wasteful and a target for elimination.
In his reflections on the 25th anniversary of the term “Lean” being coined, Womack recently discussed the importance of the lean movement’s shift from focusing only on improvement events, to one that has a strong connection to rigorous business strategy deployment.
Over the past decade, in the midst of a challenged economy, slow housing market, rising material costs, and a desire to keep jobs locally, Cadet continued to turn to the proven principles of Lean. We saw these challenges as opportunities to increase and standardize Lean knowledge and experience throughout the entire enterprise, and to focus on continuous improvement to better serve our customers.
At Cadet, the Lean philosophy spans the entire business to include the executive staff, the office staff, the production line employees, even our sales force; or as we put it “from the top floor to the shop floor”. A variety of tools enable workers in all departments to reduce waste by reducing cycle times and lead times, and removing any activity that does not add value to our customers. Lean succeeds here by using our employees’ knowledge and experience to transform the company, while strongly supporting our business strategy.
We’re exceptionally proud to receive requests for tours and presentations from other SW Washington manufacturers where we can be an example of a successful Lean Journey. The Lean community is strong and continually growing as more companies enjoy efficiencies, customer satisfaction and employee success.
Happy Birthday Lean, and thanks for journey!