Several success stories have emanated from the lean manufacturing initiatives. Although some organizations were not able to sustain the success after a few years, many others kept building on the initial success through continuous improvements in processes. Discussed below are the keys to lean manufacturing success that were common for most of the success stories:
Prepare and motivate people: Widespread orientation was given to continuous improvement, quality, training, and recruiting workers with appropriate skills. A common understanding of need to change to lean manufacturing was created.
Employee involvement: Decision making and system development was pushed down to the "lowest levels," which recognized of trained and truly empowered people. Sharing information and managing employee expectations along with identifying and empowering champions, particularly operations managers, also went a long way in involving in this initiative.
Remove roadblocks: The initiative was made both directive and empowering, resulting in the successful creation of an experimental atmosphere.
Tolerating mistakes: An atmosphere with a willingness to take risks was created.
Implementing realistic performance measures, evaluation, and reward systems: Rigid performance goals were completely done away with during implementation. Results were measured instead by the number of activities / events.
Execute pilot projects before complete implementation: After early wins in operations, successful pilot projects from the lean manufacturing initiative were extended across the entire organization.
Toyota Motor's success story is possibly the most famous case study in lean manufacturing. Most proponents of lean manufacturing agree that the Toyota story contains at least the following elements: waste elimination through the entire production process; adjusted product flow so that all production processes are value-added and production operates on a demand-pull basis; a policy of pursuing for continuous improvement at all times; team-based operations frequently configured around work-cells.
Success stories such as these will continue to encourage other organizations to take up the lean manufacturing initiative.