Implementing Lean With Your Suppliers = Partnership

I was quite impressed with this case study of a lean supply chain initiative, written by Steve Crom, that appeared on the Supply Chain Management Review site. Other than the substantial reductions in inventory and cycle time, note these important qualitative results:
  • Direct lines of communication between the parties involved: purchasing, planning, customer services, manufacturing, quality in both organizations, for quick response and problem solving.
  • A sense of teamwork between organizations, the foundation for making breakthrough improvements that last.

These results cannot be drawn on a value stream map or expressed on a spreadsheet. These accomplishments rely on the people running the process and influencing the culture of the transformation.

Note some of the requirements to maintain and replicate the process:

  • Select suppliers who share in the belief that more is to be gained by working in partnership than in traditional, arms-length relationships.
  • Pick the team leader carefully, interpersonal skills are key.
  • Appoint a full-time project coordinator.

Here is yet another instance in which the success clearly rests not only on particular employees technical skills, but their attitudes and interpersonal abilities. "Leading" here means making the important decisions AND possessing the ability to communicate and inspire.

Does your organization cultivate leaders who inspire responsibility and partnership?

1 comment:

Kelley Dodd said...

Some more insight on the Lean Supply Chain:

The Lean Supply Chain operates as a system within which we must understand not only the individual components, but how each function is interacting with the rest and impacting the whole. Through rigorous process discipline and first-time quality, a Lean Supply Chain eliminates non-value activities, or waste. The Lean Supply Chain flows to the demand of the customer, where all functional activities are triggered, with the goal steadfast on delivering the highest value to the customer at the least cost to stakeholders.