Lean Systems Production, Service, and Sustainable Supply Chains
Management’s job is to improve the system.
What does it mean to be a “lean” organization? At first, that term might sound like it is focused on cost-cutting and frugality, which may be benefits of a lean system but are not the driving force behind the concept. Lean thinking is an operational philosophy that strives for high quality, fast response, and low waste. Lean thinking in an organization influences the development of systems, which are known as lean systems. These systems are part of an ongoing process that continually works to uncover deficiencies in an organization’s operations. By eliminating waste throughout the organization, operations managers can then implement sustainable practices that result in improved environmental practices.
This week, you will explore key elements of lean systems, the challenges in achieving the goals of the lean philosophy, and how a lean organization aligns with sustainability practices. In the Discussion, you will analyze an organization and explain why it is a leader and how its culture impacts its lean practices. In the Assignment, you will work as an operations consultant at XYZ Corporation to write a report on lean systems thinking for a client company.
- Explain the use of lean layouts to achieve organizational outcomes
- Explain how firms create and sustain a lean culture
- Identify key elements and challenges of lean thinking for organizations
- Explain how lean thinking is applied to product and service systems
- Describe how lean methods create sustainable supply chains
- Explain how sustainable supply chains can promote positive social change
- Explain the role of performance measurement and continuous improvement in an organization’s strategy
Discussion: Trends in Lean Organizations
Consider the following scenario:
When Darcy McCormick began working at a small manufacturing company that developed fishing lures, the company was not doing well. After a round of layoffs, several people left of their own accord, and she was hired to replace the production manager, despite having no experience in that position. To increase her confidence in the role, Darcy began finding resources and reading books on production management, which is when she stumbled upon the concept of lean thinking. As the weeks went by, she observed her company and its processes from this perspective and began creating a plan to address some items. For example, the process for lures had always been done in the following order: create the body of the lure through a plastic mold, apply the paint and wait for it to dry, fasten the hook, and then package the lure. She found that between the phases of painting and fastening the hook, there was inefficiency because the drying lures took up a lot of space in the warehouse, and this limited the workers’ ability to perform other tasks. But this inefficiency created an opportunity for improvement. By adjusting the order of the process (fastening the hooks before painting) and creating a new system where the drying lures were hung on a wire and raised to the ceiling, this not only freed up the space in the warehouse, but it also meant that the workers no longer had to wait for the paint to dry to fasten the hooks. With a few other improvements like this, the company was able to turn things around and stay afloat.
In this Discussion, you will examine the lean practices of an organization, such as those that are similar to what is described in the scenario above. You will identify a real organization that incorporates lean practices and explain why its practices make it a leader and how its culture influences its lean practices.
To prepare for this Discussion:
- Review this week’s Learning Resources.
- Search the Internet to identify a top lean organization that you will analyze for this Discussion. Consider what makes the organization a leader in lean practices.
- Review the Academic Writing Expectations for 2000/3000-Level Courses, provided in this week’s Learning Resources.
By Day 3
Post a 225- to 300-word (3- to 4-paragraph) analysis of an organization that is a top leader in lean practices. In your analysis, do the following:
- Briefly describe the organization, including what type of organization it is (e.g., product or service provider, non-profit, governmental, etc.).
- Identify the organization’s lean practices that have distinguished it as a top lean leader.
- Provide a brief analysis of the organization’s overall culture and how this influences its lean practices.
- To support your response, be sure to reference at least one properly cited scholarly source.
Refer to the Week 4 Discussion Rubric for specific grading elements and criteria. Your Instructor will use this grading rubric to assess your work.
Read some of your colleagues’ postings.
By Day 5
Respond with at least 75 words (1 paragraph) each to two or more of your colleagues’ postings by doing one of the following:
- Provide a comparison of how your selected organization engages in lean systems and creates a lean culture to how your colleague’s chosen organization addresses these areas.
- Offer an additional insight into how the overall culture of the organization your colleague chose influences its lean practices.
Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you have learned or any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.