Many companies have made several efforts to improve and even create waste-free processes from the beginning, though some of them are very well planned and designed, we have found many times that these promising benefits do not last so long.
Then, what is the problem? is it a matter of discipline? Or maybe the Lean principles cannot be applied to those companies?
Using a “Lean tools implementation” approach, without really developing a daily improvement mindset in the organization, will create a fake sense of improvement and short life of the possible benefits.
One of the many issues is that those companies do not consider is Entropy, which in simple words, can be explained as a measure of disorder within a system, the second law of thermodynamics, says that entropy in a system will never decrease.
If we take this concept as an analogy in a Business process, (as described to me by Jeffrey Liker), Entropy means that companies (and all its processes) are living systems that naturally tend to decay, and if we don’t make anything it can reach to chaotic levels.
Business processes are influenced by many variations sources (new people, new technologies & methods, new competitors, regulation changes and so on).
All companies will suffer these variations in a small or big amount, examples of small, daily variations occur when, one operator don’t arrive to work or just quit when some tools start to disappear, machines start to have small malfunctions, the package boxes of the raw material come now in different sizes or quantity, new temporal stocking places appear on the shop floor and warehouse, workers without proper qualification and training, and the list of small deviations goes on and on.
It is then, when our people will start to adapt from the original standard and find the way to make the things happen.
Traditionally managers will blame the workers for deviating from the defined standards and will also point lack of discipline, but the reality is that many people deviate from the standards with good intentions, because the defined standard is no longer the more efficient or even viable.
As most of the times this is a management issue, they are responsible to create the framework (strategy and resources) to develop and maintain the right standard conditions and fight back the entropy.
Which kind of manager are you? Are you blaming others for not keeping the discipline or do you accept that business is dynamic and will be always change (normally for worst if let alone).
So keep on mind that continuous improvement is a DAILY duty and should be done at all levels of the organization (most important at middle and top management level).
So, what are you doing to foster a daily continuous improvement mindset?