Question: What offers the greatest opportunity to drive down the cost of a product or service and increase the value of the company?
Answer: It's the application of lean principles across the entirety of an organization, says author John R. Black. Don't wait, and remember that CEO leadership is key, he emphasizes. Start by learning what other industries are implementing. "Once you've learned from others, make the global production system of lean your own."
Black cites the rationale offered by Boeing's first vice president of operations, Bruce Gissing: "The most effective quality improvement technique is one you brew up for yourselves. This [technique] is often a recipe combining the teaching and techniques of experts and academics, plus the energy and enthusiasm of your own people. The technologies and techniques of quality improvement are well worth learning, but they are not proprietary and should not be written in stone. The best quality initiatives are those that continuously adjust to your company's situation, raising your sights as you improve and evolving as your company changes."
Black retired from Boeing as director of lean manufacturing research and development and now leads a lean manufacturing consulting firm, John Black and Associates.