Our weekly Executive Spotlight Blog Series will showcase business leaders' perspectives on real issues facing our industry, and the lean best practices that help improve supply chains and grow organizations.
We interviewed Jim Mikulski, Global Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt, to understand how lean thinking is driving innovation at Greene, Tweed and enabling the forward-thinking company to change the game in its industry.
As a leading manufacturer of high-performance elastomers, advanced-engineered thermoplastics, high-performance thermoplastic composites, and integrated material solutions, Greene, Tweed is a 150-year old global company with facilities across North America, Europe and Asia.
Hi Jim, tell us about your history with lean - were there any pivotal or a defining moments?
I had a natural affinity for quality and operational waste reduction early-on. In my opinion, lean is the sustaining strategy for operational excellence. Tools predominated when I started in the industry. I’ve come to the conclusion that lean thinking and principles must guide our business decisions and behavior -- not just tools. I've recognized that tools and techniques are only part of the story.
How are lean thinking and principles part of Green, Tweed's business strategy?
Customer-focused innovation is our business strategy. Our inspiration is to go beyond and continuously seek progress -- and that goes hand-in-hand with lean.
For example, we realized that standardizing and speeding up the delivery of products to our customers would provide a competitive edge. We leveraged lean principles to do this by restructuring our value streams to flow from order entry to delivery. We clearly defined our products and aligned our processes accordingly. We had to think about what value we provide to customers with those products, and how we can improve upon flow and throughput within those value streams. This was a big shift from a traditional value stream set-up.
How did Greene, Tweed manage such a large shift with its people?
Everyone on the team is involved with the improvements -- from top level leadership to people working on the floor. This is a cornerstone of our leadership system. We engage people through a series of Hoshin planning with annual planning and quarterly reviews. These annual value stream plans have current and future state maps with detailed actions on how to reach our goals. Example actions could include online lean training, kaizen events, variability reduction projects, value stream plans, etc. We look at two pieces: daily management system and culture. Lean is continuously improving, and engaging our team members in this process drives our strategy of innovation.
We also follow guiding principles to build a lean culture of innovation:
- Leading with Humility
- Respect for People
- Seeking Perfection
- Quality at the Source
- Focus on Process
- Flow and Pull Value
- Technical / Scientific Thinking
- Thinking Systemically Constancy of Purpose (Innovation)
- Creating Value for Customers and Shareholders
In your experience, how do you change behavior in organizations?
In my experience, education and leading by example lead to changes in organizational behavior. For example our Greene, Tweed Selma, Texas leadership team used a created a list of example behaviors aligned to our operating principles, and posted pictures of leadership team members describing these behaviors in order to engage the entire site in our Continuous Improvement strategy.
Essentially, lean principles have enabled Greene, Tweed to continue driving innovative solutions on a global scale. Whether it's redefining flight, fueling the growing international community, or advance the next generation of technology, lean thinking will help us get there.
Ready to start changing behavior in your organization?
Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group
LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Google+