Fisher Senior Lecturer Mrinalini Gadkari is breaking down a recent week in the life of Fisher’s Master of Business Operational Excellence program. Stay tuned this week for more. 

Prof. Gary Butler at a recent MBOE session

Prof. Gary Butler emphasized the importance of creating a link with lean tools, systems and principles in creating and sustaining culture change. Most companies, he said, are great at implementing lean tools, but unless they’re tied to strategic company goals and a system exists that nurtures those changes, it’s impossible to sustain lean change – or any change, for that matter.

As an example, a company might implement 5S to organize multiple work areas to improve workflow and create a safe environment for the operators. In a few weeks, however, things tend to go back to how they were. This is often because the 5S process wasn’t tied to a deeper strategic goal. Often there’s a lack of a system where operators and managers can have first- and second-level daily meetings where problems, if any, are signaled to upstream operations. Managers who don’t go to the gemba to see the actual state of the flow are unlikely to have a sustained 5S environment as well.

Here are some key takeaways from Butler’s lecture:

  • Operational Excellence requires a vision of the future state
  • It requires a plan for gap closure between the current and future state
  • No strategy can be executed successfully without communication throughout the organization
  • Day-by-day perseverance is required to take small steps toward the future state vision.


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