Recently the BIG Change team were invited to one of the last private tours around the soon to close Melbourne Toyota factory. As a long-time Lean practitioner and lifelong advocate of Continuous Improvement I obviously had a good idea of what to expect and of course I was not disappointed, the clear standout messages were:
It was not until the end of the tour when I thought I had spotted an out of date sign that it fell into place. I asked “Why does that sign say 4S and not 5S?” the response I got I will never forget and underpins everything that makes lean work; “The 5th S is Sustain, why would you do something and not sustain it?”
The message here is very simple, when your culture is right, when you have a shared vision of the future and every employee is engaged there is no need for tick charts to ensure that things go back in their place, there is no need to have a KPI’s to measure the number of 5 Why investigations completed and there is no need for long drawn out meetings with pages of minutes and reports.
The issue that many Australian manufacturers are currently facing is that Lean, Continuous Improvement and Business Excellence programs are implemented into an environment that is not aligned to a successful business outcome and very quickly the tribe reject the new initiative because it is more work rather than a tool to use to achieve the shared Vision.
If you don’t see your improvement program as the best thing in your business right now – ask yourself if you have first created an environment for success.