1.Who are you? What organization are you with? What are your current
After 30 years in operations and general management, I am currently
President and founder of KDR Associates, a five year old consulting company
dedicated to educating and enabling client business leaders and their
organizations to achieve high-performance results.
Current activities include coaching, educating and guiding lean management
system development for clients to either begin or accelerate their lean
journey. Our goal with each client is to enable them to achieve bottom-line
results and top-line growth from their continuous improvement efforts.
2.How, when and why did you get introduced to lean and what fueled and
fuels the passion?
In 1980 as a Purchasing Manager in the electronics business I had a "wake up
call." I was sourcing a power supply and found that I could purchase a
completely assembled, tested, and delivered power supply from Japan for less
than I could buy the materials in the U.S. As an Industrial Engineer with a
Masters in Finance, I knew something had to be different with their business
process. They were not selling this below cost. Investigation led me to
discover that alternate methods of manufacturing were being used, which was
then referred to as The Toyota Production System or Just-in-Time. I knew at
that point for companies survive, we had to change the way we did business.
My quest for knowledge about this system led me to research companies like
Toyota, Kawasaki, and even Hewlett Packard who were using Just-In-Time.
Later in the mid-1980s the formation of AME, provided me the opportunity to
visit, see and learn first-hand the principles, tools, and methodology of
the Toyota Production System. As operations manager, I was able to implement
them in my plant, see the results first hand and avoid being "outsourced."
I was hooked.
Today the world economy has brought global competition to everyone's front
door. What fuels the passion is that I have children and grandchildren who
depend on the continued success of our U.S. economy. Lean Management
Systems have demonstrated time and time again superior results over our
traditional management systems to ensure the viability of a business.
3.What is the most powerful aspect of lean?
The most powerful aspect of lean is that it enables the entire organization
to contribute to creating growth. The techniques and activities differ
according to the application at hand, but they have the same underlying
principle: creating value for the customer and redeploying non-value-adding
activities into ones that add value to sustain the business and fuel growth.
4.What is the most misunderstood or unrecognized aspect of lean?
The "respect for people" principle continues to be unrecognized, ignored, or
misunderstood by most senior managers. Lean addresses this in its definition
of waste and the involvement of people in improving the business.
Unfortunately, Lean is viewed by many as efficiency or cost reduction
methodology, and the way managers like to learn about Lean is through
industrial touring. It is very difficult to see the "respect for people"
principle in operation during industrial touring. Consider for example the
automotive industry, the plants display many of the lean tools we have
learned about, yet the adversarial employee-management relationship that
persists hinders company performance. "Respect for people" is the principle
that enables real customer focus and continuous improvement. It also is the
biggest challenge for management.
5.What in your opinion is the biggest opportunity for lean in today's
world? How can that be accomplished?
If by today's world you mean the current economic environment and all its
ramifications including energy and global warming, that is a huge question.
The economic conditions today require companies to take a hard look at their
internal organization and work processes to find ways to do more with less.
Most companies depend on the 15% of the organization in management positions
to provide ideas to solve business problems. The biggest opportunity is to
educate every person in the organization on the business they are in and
engage their mental abilities to provide ideas and make improvements.
In this current financial market having long extended supply chains
consuming energy and requiring high working capital investment becomes
questionable. Company leadership needs to reduce the emphasis on
outsourcing to low labor cost countries and task their organizations to
shorten lead times, reduce energy usage and waste generation.
Lean provides the systems thinking and considers all of the process
interactions to give informed people the tools to act on these challenges.
How this is accomplished is to view people as the resource for answers
rather than a cost problem.