Strategos Lean Briefing

The Newsletter of Lean Manufacturing Strategy
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25 June 2004             

Teams In Lean Manufacturing

A Crucial Role

For several thousand years, since the Roman Legions and the Catholic Church, hierarchical organizations have dominated human organization. Now, Work Teams, small, autonomous groups with little or no formal leadership are challenging the ancient concept of hierarchy. They are an important and often under-appreciated component of Lean Manufacturing.

In Lean Manufacturing, teamwork enhances workcell operation through superior motivation and better balance. Process Improvement Teams attack difficult quality problems and are an important element of Six Sigma and TQM. Teams can improve work processes, solve problems and prevent errors in all parts of the organization.

Teams seem so simple and easy that managers often assume their workings, structure, environment and development is self-evident. However, teams are the socio side of those complex and often-delicate socio-technical systems known as factories. Among other things, effective teams need:

  • Training, Practice, Coaching and Experience

  • A Compatible Culture

  • A Process Structured for Teamwork

  • Time and Patience

None of these pre-conditions exist in the conventional, functional, hierarchical factory. Such factories require massive cultural change, visionary leadership and extensive training to implement work teams and Lean Manufacturing. Such change is not easy; or fast.

Our Team Development Series describes the operation, and structure of work teams, stages of development and the problems encountered. Our Leadership Series discusses the type of leadership required and how to encourage it. And, the  series on Implementation shows how to plan and execute an effective Lean Strategy, including the cultural elements.

These articles should be helpful in your lean journey. In addition, please consider our onsite and online seminars as well.

All The Best,

Quarterman Lee

You may forward Lean Briefing to colleagues or use it in your publication, but please do so in its entirety. Copyright 2004 Strategos, Inc.

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