Two stories caught my eye last week which helped demonstrate the dichotomy in lean thinking today. The first was Whirlpool’s announcement that they will lay off between 300 and 500 workers at the Evansville, Indiana plant. This is due to "continuing efforts to adjust production to market demands." But the line that really explains what is probably going on: "the company will continue to have committees explore lean manufacturing or efficiency practices." Think about that while I tell you the next story.
A day earlier Sealy, the world’s largest manufacturer of bedding products, announced they would build a new 210,000 square foot facility near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, creating over 100 new jobs. This is Pennsylvania, not North Dakota let alone Asia, so not exactly a cheap place to set up shop… at least according to NAM’s criteria. But again there’s one line that tells the real story: "Sealy will employ lean manufacturing techniques in the design and operation of the plant."
So there you have it. But perhaps I should recap because so many apparently miss it:
- "The company will have committees to explore lean manufacturing."
- "Sealy will employ lean manufacturing techniques in the design and operation of the plant."
Some companies think of lean as some foreign concept that has to be studied and analyzed by committees with plans and buy-in from all groups to achieve synergy and consensus and other meaningless buzz words.
Some companies just do it.
Guess who survives.