Originally Posted by slycedbred
My question is: Is lean truly the revolutionary approach that people make it out to be (myself possibly included), or has it always been done and just never given a name? From my viewpoint, it really hasn't been done in most industries since everywhere I go is full of ridiculously high levels of waste and errors that would have been eliminated within months of using some of the lean principles.
The system has been around for a few decades now. It was popularized by Japanese companies like Toyota with the name kaizen, and as a result, it is much more popular in manufacturing applications. Lean is also about continuous small improvements not rapid overhauls of entire systems generally. It is slowly catching on in places like IT (modular data centers, hot rooms, etc) and the service industry, especially health care.
I am no expert on the subject matter - as I said, I'm taking my first course on things like lean. To me though, it seems like lean is different than six sigma. Six sigma in my limited experience always seemed hokey. When I was an intern at a large company, they had six sigma consultants come in. Most of the lectures and workshop stuff was "if you eliminate defects, you'd save money."
Why does management resist it? Fear of the unknown? Inertia? An important thing I think to making it work is getting workers on board (although if management is opposed, it won't happen). The best way to get and keep workers on board is make sure they understand that improving efficiency or eliminating waste won't eliminate their positions. If you use this stuff and cut a percentage of your employees after a big improvement, suddenly not only will you get no support, but workers may intentionally become less efficient.