It’s easy to determine whether the leadership of a company truly embraces lean thinking. One of the more frustrating “tells” is the insistence of leadership to precisely follow the path others have taken.
The underlying notion of achieving the same or similar results may be appealing but it does not address why the specific path or methodology was chosen by a given company to begin with. Many automotive companies have learned that lean is not a simple matter of copying and duplicating the practices of a company like Toyota.
If lean is indeed a journey, it is only fair to say that any competitor or other company you have chosen as a model to follow is still in the pursuit of perfection to achieve the ever elusive ideal state. Since we don’t or can’t possibly know what their ideal state could possibly look like, implementing the best practices of other companies is merely nothing more than a starting point.
To be a “copy-cat” or “me too” company does little to differentiate you from the competition. What advantage or benefit will the customer realize if you are just like all the others?
The tools of lean and six sigma are not the concern here. Rather, the concern extends to the very systems and processes of the organization and business itself. It is the underlying thinking that forms the foundation on which the organif the underlying thinking and assumptions
Innovation is Lean Thinking by Design
Differentiation is a trait best demonstrated by a company like Logitech. While some companies simply attempt to make products faster and cheaper, Logitech’s appeal is to offer something more in the product itself.
Consider Logitech’s recently introduced flow technology where a single keyboard and mouse combination can seamlessly switch between two computers as though they were one. Spending a little more money on a premium or advanced product offering is still cheaper than having to buy three of each and also offers the benefit of having more available desk space.
As another example, Logitech recently released the MX Vertical Mouse, an ergonomically designed mouse that improves performance, productivity and reduces the risk of injury that may occur due to prolonged use of the device. Although the design changes are only slightly radical, they demonstrate the never-ending cycle of continuous improvement.
Systems, methods, processes, and procedures are present in every facet of an organization or business. Consider how lean thinking can be applied to increase their effectiveness, improve performance, and ultimately eliminate waste.
As I’ve said before, “What you see is how we think.” I contend that Lean thinking is best demonstrated by what differentiates your company from the competition. The greatest value may be found in those elements that defy logic and the small things that set you apart to position your company ahead of the curve.
Until Next Time – STAY lean!
Related Articles and Resources