CEOs need to view lean as a culture, not a tool

10/22/2012 | IndustryWeek

When lean-manufacturing expert Art Byrne asked workers at Wiremold in the 1990s to cut one of their machine setup processes from 14 hours to under 10 minutes, they said it was impossible -- but then cut it to six minutes with a few changes. That kind of improvement happens when CEOs treat lean management as a part of company culture and actively get out and promote it, Byrne said. Dan Ariens, the CEO of lawn and garden equipment producer Ariens Co., said he takes regular "gemba walks" through the company's five plants to monitor and praise employees' lean efforts. "I have to be the guy who holds the stake in place and not let it slip back," Ariens said.

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