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The impossible is often the untried. -- Jim Goodwin

CROSS-INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVES

The Lean tool set has been especially useful in helping business teams become aware of the visible aspects of operating processes that need to be managed for best organizational results.

For example, work-in-process (WIP) inventory queues exist in all types of businesses, and must be minimized to keep market-response times short and working capital levels low.

  • Customer orders in on-line queues waiting for insurance transactions
  • Patients waiting in queues for specialists or test equipment
  • Component parts in staging areas waiting for the next processing step
  • Engineering change requests waiting in “in-box” for time to process them

Creative techniques for reducing and controlling those queues can be learned in industries outside your own. And can reduce order turnaround times by 90% or more!

Less obvious are other cross-industry learnings. Some techniques optimize workforce efforts for industry-leader productivity that’s often double the industry norm…

Defense equipment manufacturers find it difficult to respond quickly to customer requests for changes, in part due to poor accessibility to complex information and data files. Commercial services providers in finance and accounting have found that organizing the customer requirements information and their own internal data-bases are key to eliminating delays and wasted “search” or “evaluation” time when acting on requests. Those are examples of the Lean “5S” workplace organization principle that should be applied in all workplaces to be competitive.

Healthcare providers are now finding practical ways to balance workloads and eliminate bottlenecks in the cross-functional patient processes that previously seemed cast in stone. Many manufacturers are “rediscovering” the same process-balancing techniques as competition gets tougher.

Key point:  Great ‘new’ operating ideas can come from industries outside your own.