Podcast: Lean, Continuous Improvement and People

November 16, 2023
  • Brent Stewart
  • Brent Stewart
    Digital Strategy & Content Leader at Barry-Wehmiller

To many companies, Toyota’s well-known Lean methodology is simply about waste elimination. They adopt Lean processes to improve performance by reducing waste and redundancies.

They want to make a company “lean and mean.” Unfortunately, in some companies that phrase is quite literal. In many instances, Lean becomes more about numbers on a page than people. People sometimes become the waste that Lean eliminates.

At Barry-Wehmiller, our Lean journey began with caring about people, not numbers.

When Lean was introduced to the Barry-Wehmiller organization a number of years ago, CEO Bob Chapman's concern was that people would be lost along the way. But we found a way to adopt Lean methods and stay true to our Guiding Principles of Leadership. Bob Chapman talks about Barry-Wehmiller’s Lean journey in Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring For Your People Like Family.

Instead of using Lean to reduce waste, we use it to reduce frustration. It's part of the bag of tool we use in continuous improvement to ensure a stable and thriving business for the benefit of our people. It's part of our overall Operational Excellence strategy. At the time, we even gave our vision of Lean a new name – The Living Legacy of Leadership, which is about engaging people’s head, heart and hands in creating their own future and actively shaping the legacy of the business every day.

On this podcast, we take a look at how our approach to Lean puts people at the center to make it about eliminating frustration, not waste. In addition, you'll hear an interview with Jacob Stoller, author of The Lean CEO. Jacob’s book features a number of organizations that, like Barry-Wehmiller, found a way to empower people, not processes.



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