Think HBR

Hunter manufacturers and service organisations turn to the Lithgow model of change

A group of 28 senior managers and business owners have completed the first intensive block of the Lean Practitioner Program which was hosted by DSI at Bennet’s Green in February. The focus of this program is to take a non-traditional approach enabling participants to take the first steps in understanding value whilst maximising the human potential in their organisations.
The Lithgow transformation model involved implementation of lean systems so that a 100 year old manufacturing site could be transformed from traditional management practices to modern lean management. The successful transformation process started in 2010 when the site was considered likely to close and has since enabled the site to become globally competitive. The transformation model was designed and developed with the support of ILS.
ILS’s Australasia Managing Director Ray Littlefield suggested that the most difficult steps is overcoming the inertia present in brownfield organisations and finding the right leaders with some knowledge of Lean or the willingness to educate themselves. The Lean Practitioner Program provides participants with the knowledge and skills to start analysing their business at system level through tools such as value stream mapping. This cross functional understanding creates a dramatic change in the way routine tasks are done every day. The change to Lean management is a journey personally for the leaders and for their organisations and its scope of change is steadily widened to include the entire organisation and eventually the extended value stream.
During the first week of the program participants are trained to take the necessary steps to adopt Lean thinking in a business unit with a set of product or service families. This may only involve one product or a service line within the business unit that is in crisis. Then, once the dramatic change has been successfully introduced it becomes a model for leaders of other business units to gain hands on learning and apply it to any crisis in their own business unit.
Dywidag-Systems International’s Robert Martin Regional COO indicated that he and his team had made significant changes to the operations at the Bennetts Green site over the past few years.
However, he wanted to provide opportunities to individuals to personally learn and to create a Lean transformation following the same successful program used at Lithgow and supported by ILS.
During visits to the Lithgow factory it became obvious that the ILS program not only provided the Lean tools required for sectional transformation but more importantly reached out and linked the individual departments through cross functional, highly focused, work teams.
Of the 28 participants 12 are from DSI’s senior operations and management group. The make-something-happen mind-set presented by the program will have a very positive impact on both DSI and that of the external participant’s organisations. He indicated that more of the DSI’s senior managers will be provided with the same opportunity in the near future.