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Lean Implementation : Project Plan

Hello - my name is Mark and I'm a project manager for [omitted]. We have been researching the benefits of lean manufacturing and how it works. In our last weekly staff meeting I was told that I was now in charge of implementing lean. I am somewhat familiar with lean methods but would not consider myself an expert. I was told in the staff meeting that I was expected to develop a project plan using Microsoft Project. Using Project I am expected to present the timeline, budget, activities, and delegation of responsibilities including milestones. I have to have this project plan complete within 2 weeks and that the project must not go beyond July of 2006. That's roughly 4 months. My job was also threatened along with others that will be reporting to me on this project. Do I have any chance of completing a project that is at least satisfactory in your opinion?

Would it be possible to implement some lean concepts within that timeframe that produce visible results?

If you can provide maybe an outline of steps it could be helpful.

Submission April, 2006: Posted with consent

Going Lean is a Journey

Thank you for submitting the question but my answers are not going to be what you want to hear. I will try to help though. First of all, you can not implement a few lean initiatives. This practice, cherry-picking, has actually hurt organizations in the past. I'm going to recommend against that even if you are trying to save your job. I will say, however, that the person making those demands is entirely unprepared for a lean transition. Lean can not be achieved in 4 months and that demand is unreasonable.

More importantly, lean is not a project to be implemented or a destination, it is a journey in which there is no end. Information regarding this philosophy is easily found. I would encourage you to find as much information supporting that fact as you can. Lean is an ongoing, endless pursuit of perfection and elimination of waste in the value stream. The best you can do within such a short timeframe is to put together a plan of how the journey will begin and the direction it should take you. It must be stressed to your upper management personnel, which I assume made this demand, that the length of the project is endless.

As for providing an outline, it would not fair to you if I tried to spew out a magic recipe. That is not intended to sound disrespectful. Instead, I want you to have a basic grasp of the scope of this project. Feel free to pass this along to your management staff. In fact, if you will arrange it with the key decision-makers in your organization, we will visit your facility and give a free lean info session. The only cost to your organization is the cost of the trip to your facility. You will not be charged for the information session. This will better prepare the organization for the lean transition, and should eliminate some of the unreasonable demands.

Demands such as those you are facing are often made simply because management personnel are not yet familiar with what "lean" actually is. We can help prepare you for the transition and, if they so choose, can help you on your journey. I don't want to discourage the organization from making the transition. The benefits are remarkable. I do, however, want them to better understand the lean philosophy. Beginning that journey without understanding and guidance will leave the organization stranded.

You need understanding, guidance of an expert, commitment of the entire organization, and a powerful change agent.

Please contact us to schedule the lean info session.



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