If manufacturing executives drank a little more they just might have an easier time pursuing lean. While it is not the exclusive property of Alcoholics Anonymous, the folks in AA are all well acquainted with the Serenity Prayer, and it is quite relevant in quite a few areas, including lean. It goes …
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; The courage to change the things I can; And the wisdom to know the difference
As the brewing capital of America, maybe the AA prayer has become embedded in the Milwaukee culture. Or maybe the cheeseheads are just a naturally serene, courageous, wise bunch of people. In any event, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel ran an article that makes my point.
"We try to focus on the things that we can control and deal with the external issues the best we can," said Elliott Erickson, President of Heale Manufacturing Company. "If we don’t continually get better, we fall behind. There are no two ways about it." What he could control was getting lean and the company just landed a big military contract to pour on top of the already increasing sales growth. Costs are going down in spite of rising costs for energy and other things.
Across town, N.E.W. Plastics dealt with the price of resin climbing from 40 cents to 70 cents by getting lean and offsetting the material cost increases. Tailored Label Products countered high health care and raw material costs by eliminating waste in other areas.
How many companies do you know that reacted to Hurricane Katrina by violating Serenity Prayer tenet #1 – God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change? NAM and the big public companies squealed to Washington to somehow undo the damage done to the petroleum processing assets in and around the Gulf. Or they want the government or the courts to somehow cut their costs for health care, or change their history of giving away the store to the unions. Don’t get me wrong – there may well be some long term resolution to the oil supply or health care costs and we all ought to work towards that end. But it ain’t gonna happen next month so whining about it is hardly a viable business strategy.
Far better for a manufacturing manager to look at the rest of the costs with the wisdom to recognize that they can be reduced starting next month, and have the courage to lead a lean transformation