Lean Times Lead to Lean Strategies

When times get tough, the tough turn to lean.

Or so it would seem, according to a survey published by Epicor.

On behalf of the software company, research firm RBInteractive Research Group questioned 274 supply chain and corporate management professionals. The study was conducted over the Internet among subscribers to Modern Materials Handling, Supply Chain Management Review and Logistics Management magazines.

One of the study’s key findings is: “In response to the current economic climate, the top three business philosophies and strategies that manufacturers are adopting are lean production, TQM, and Six Sigma.”

Lean is at the top of list of strategic initiatives cited by the respondents, mentioned by 63 percent of those questioned.

The top items on the list of management philosophies that attracted interest from the respondents are lean (cited by 56 percent), TQM (37 percent), Six Sigma (33 percent), Supply Chain Operations Reference, known as SCOR (31 percent), and theory of constraints (16 percent).

The findings are not surprising, but they leave me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am glad that more companies are embracing lean (and other improvement strategies).

On the other hand, it is unfortunate that many companies think of lean as a strategy appropriate primarily for difficult times, and not for ALL times. Similarly, I fear that many of the companies moving towards lean just because times are tough don’t really understand it, and will not have successful lean transformations.

Am I being too pessimistic or cynical? What do you think?

1 comment:

Dean Bliss said...

I don't know about mixed feelings - I'm guessing the responses were simply to the question they were asked, and may not reflect any desperation or panic in moving to a performance improvement philosophy. It's nice to see Lean be the method of preference - I just hope it's not just the tools, but the philosophy, that companies adopt. Otherwise, the next list we see may reflect the next "flavor of the month".