Chapter 16

Beginning the Lean Transformation

Harry Cendrowski

James P. Martin


Much like past quality initiatives, lean manufacturing initiatives have cropped up at numerous firms across the nation—and, indeed, the world. While some companies (notably Toyota) have succeeded in implementing lean manufacturing and its beliefs, other companies have failed miserably in realizing the benefits this discipline can offer. Given its importance in reshaping buyout-backed firms, this chapter explores lean transformation and common reasons why organizations fail to properly implement it successfully.

One of the most prominent reasons for the collapse of lean transformation initiatives is the failure of the entire organization to adopt the tenets of lean manufacturing; it is not simply a manufacturing initiative. It is for this reason that this chapter will refer to the beliefs of this discipline as lean operations, and not lean manufacturing.

As buyout funds often look for distressed companies to acquire, a profound understanding of lean operations (aka Lean) and its principles can assist managers of these funds in turning around their portfolio companies. At its core, Lean is a process improvement tool, centered on improving the efficiency of the organization at every level and in every department. Its primary goal is the deliberate reduction of waste throughout all facets of the organization. When implemented properly, Lean creates a corporate culture driven by feedback and ...

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