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CEOs Play Central Role in Lean Transformation

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Jul 8, 2014 10:38:01 AM

Chief executives are pivotal to the success of lean manufacturing, two transformation experts told the AIM CEO Connection recently.

ManufacturingWorkerSmallSusan Janus and Joe Griffin, Regional Managers at the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), said CEOs must initiate, motivate and participate in efforts to improve value and reduce waste through lean principles. That role includes clearly defining roles and responsibilities, and holding people accountable for results.

“Implementing lean is a real test of CEO vision and leadership,” Janus said.

“Can the CEO persuade everyone to buy in and follow through? Can the CEO create a culture that allows the customer to pull value from the organization?”

Janus and Griffin led a discussion on The Role of the CEO in Lean with a dozen chief executives taking part in the CEO Connection in Attleboro. The peer group allows CEOs to meet on a monthly basis to share knowledge and develop the leadership skills needed to direct companies through times of change.

Lean manufacturing requires a company to identify the value in its production process while eliminating anything for which the customer should not pay. The objective is to reduce the waste that resides in product defects, overproduction, time delays, transportation of materials and equipment, excess inventory, motion and underutilized employees.

The CEO must set the tone, according to Janus:

  • Understand that lean process starts with the customer;
  • Convey to employees that lean is an organizational mindset and way of life;
  • Prepare for the fact that lean requires deep understanding;
  • Model the way; lead by example; participate;
  • Select priorities and stay focused;
  • Provide a roadmap - translate throughout the organization

“Above all else, the CEO must develop talent and enable others to carry out lean,” Janus said. “That means believing in everyone’s ability to contribute, training for knowledge and skill, and developing champions who can drive the process.”

Veda Clark, the former chief executive who moderates CEO Connection, said participants choose the topics for each meeting and that there was keen interest in the management role in lean process. Each session of the CEO Connection includes a presentation from an outside expert, open discussion and a company tour.

“These CEOs learn a tremendous amount from one another. It’s a uniquely valuable exercise for people who are sometimes very much on their own in making important decisions,” Clark said.

The south shore group is looking to recruit three additional CEOs, while recruiting is underway for a north-of-Boston AIM CEO Connection. Manufacturing CEO’s interested to learn more about the AIM CEO Connection should contact either Brian Gilmore (bgilmore@aimnet.org) or Gary MacDonald (gmcdonald@aimnet.org). 

 

Topics: CEO, Management, Manufacturing

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