Organizational leaders often implement lean production processes but forget that business success also depends on making sure employees are well suited to their tasks. A Master of Science degree in Lean Manufacturing from Kettering University Online provides you with the tools, techniques, and strategies necessary to leverage both processes and people.
Every company has different processes to produce and sell their products and services, but when implementing a lean transformation, the goals are the same:
- Eliminating waste
- Reducing cycle time
- Increasing productivity while maintaining value for the customer
- Streamlining workflow and processes
- Eliminating defects
The Right Seat on the Bus
Companies can have lean principles, practices, and processes securely in place, but if the right employees are not implementing those processes, the company’s lean transformation initiative, and ultimate success, is jeopardized. For example, if you have a machine that runs perfectly but the person operating the machine is not skilled, mistakes and product defects can occur.
In Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t, he describes a bus metaphor to explain the concept of having the right people in the right jobs. “We expected that good to great leaders would begin by setting a new vision and strategy. We found instead that they first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to drive it” (Collins, 2001, p. 13). Understanding how to implement lean transformation is just as important as knowing how to find and leverage the right talent.
Finding the Right Talent
Hiring processes can be time consuming and challenging. Companies should regularly review and fine tune their human resource processes. For example, writing more accurate job descriptions and conducting behavioral interviews are two good first steps. Behavioral interviews are those in which interviewers ask candidates a series of questions about how they have handled situations from the past. This thinking reflects the idea that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. As the candidate answers, interviewers begin to compile a sense of how the candidate might handle similar situations in the future.
Value Soft Skills
Soft skills are those qualities that enable someone to work well with others. Creative thinking, conflict management, and effective interpersonal communication are examples of soft skills and should be valued and appreciated. You can teach someone a technical skill but you cannot easily teach someone good social skills and how to interact effectively with others if those skills do not already exist in the individual’s toolbox.
It is important to assist and support professional development of employees. Encouraging employees to attend conferences, creating opportunities for mentorship, or suggesting they learn a different skill set is often well worth the return on investment. When employees feel supported by management in these endeavors, they are more likely to seek out professional development opportunities and return from them feeling more engaged, committed, and motivated.
Becoming lean can boost an organization to the next level of performance but only if paired with talented people sitting in the right seats on the bus. Learn more about the impact completing a MS in Lean Manufacturing Online from Kettering University can help you leverage lean processes. Combining this with solid human resource practices can help your company achieve its strategic goals and position yourself for continuing success in the industry of your choice.