Lean manufacturing

Essay by katerina729University, Master'sC+, February 2004

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Elements of a lean manufacturing programme

Much has been written and published about lean manufacturing programmes. The focus of which would appear to be on the technical elements of such programmes i.e. specific tools and techniques, human resources and the cultural implications and requirements. However during the author's period of research, the findings of which indicate that very little headway would appear to have been made regarding the strategic and competitive framework within which the lean manufacturing concepts should operate. It is true to say however that a great number of works on competitive strategies and strategic development processes have been written. Given the scope and constraints of this paper (focus and length) the author provides a number of strategic theories, which offer some synergy and context to lean manufacturing systems.

In Kenichi Ohmae's 1983 book, "The Mind of the Strategist" McGraw-Hill. Ohmae states, "What business strategy is all about, what distinguishes it from all other kinds of business planning, is competitive advantage".

Corporate strategy he argues implies an attempt to "alter a company's strength relative to that of its competitors in the most efficient way". Responsiveness to changing customer objectives lies at the root of Ohmae's system for constructing a business strategy. He further identifies three points of the "strategic triangle" the organisation (its strengths, weaknesses and resources), the customer and the competition. "Customer-based strategies are the basis of all strategy," asserts Ohmae. He is convinced that an organisation's foremost concern should be the interest of its customers as opposed to that of its shareholders. Ohmae's theories do offer a degree of synergy to one of the key elements of any lean manufacturing system that of customer focus.

According to Joseph Defeo of the Juran Institute (www.juran-institute.com) (2002).

"Successful implementation of an organisation's strategy will reduce operating costs;...