One of the first training programs I run is not about Lean. It’s not about Adding Value to the Customer, how they must strive for perfection, etc. etc. No, one of the first things that executives have a right to understand is how Lean will make them money – how the high cost of implementing Lean will have some return on its investment besides the visual tools on the floor that people associate with the process.
Consultants, who have never been executives, scoff at this response, pressuring you as a leader that is not about money, but about the true Spirit of Kaizen, or that it’s all about the people. They point to the visual elements of Lean, and are more than willing to point out your failures on Gemba walks, with worker efficiency, holding you accountable, how you should “just do it”, your poor time management skills, etc. And then they blame you for the first failure, and then the second failure, while your leaders pressure you for any financial results to justify all that budget that has been burned up over the years. Everyone, it seems, has tried Lean and questions if it really works, or if they should try it again.
But the Throughput Improvement Process, which I developed at GM, has been in place for over 30 years! Executives trust this process. Every dollar that is spent returns two. Why? I teach these smart, talented executives that cost accounting is their root cause problem, and how throughput accounting is a better way to make financial decisions. Equipped with the new knowledge, leaders find the first place to make money – right away – in 30 days or less. If you make more money than your budget, then you don’t need deep pockets. Success breeds success.
How do I get bottom-line success despite 30 years of management churn? I teach smart people what they must know first, but that no one is teaching them. And that’s how to make money.