February 2006 
Volume 04, Issue 9 
Cover Story

Initiative: Lean+

Initiative: Lean+Objective: To continue to build upon Boeing's already excellent Lean practices by taking them to the next level in production areas and moving them into offices and back shops

The Lean+ initiative aims to continue existing Lean practices and move them beyond the factory floor into offices and back shops. The initiative's corporate sponsor is Alan Mulally, president and CEO, Commercial Airplanes; its leader is Bill Schnettgoecke, from Integrated Defense Systems. Here's what they had to say about Lean+ and its implications.

Q: How would you characterize the Lean+ initiative?

Mulally: It's all about taking the next step in our Lean journey. We know we've accomplished great things with Lean in our factories, where our employees, suppliers and partners are committed to continuous improvement in product quality and process efficiency. This has been absolutely vital to our success in making our products more competitive and winning new orders. Now we want to further extend the benefits of Lean to offices, support services and other operations beyond factories and throughout the company.

Schnettgoecke: The improvements in efficiency that Alan mentioned will allow us to maintain a competitive advantage over our competitors, continuously improve productivity and position our business for long-term growth. Our business goals will flow down to every level of our organization. The key is to understand and embrace the principles of Lean+ and to use those principles as enablers to achieve the challenging targets in our business plans. There's no doubt in my mind that we can do it.

Lean+: At the helm

Corporate sponsor: Alan Mulally, president and CEO, Commercial Airplanes

Leader: Bill Schnettgoecke, from Integrated Defense Systems

Q: Does a factory-based initiative such as Lean really have application in other environments?

Mulally: Absolutely! Lean thinking and Lean principles can improve our performance everywhere. And we do have areas today beyond production where Lean is working. We want to spread it even broader and take it to the next level of performance.

Schnettgoecke: Many of our suppliers and customers will be involved, too, as we address the bigger picture—the entire value stream—in the application of Lean principles and practices.

Q: How will we achieve success?

Mulally: For starters, Bill is our full-time leader dedicated to the Lean+ initiative. He's a talented leader with lots of Lean experience. The plan is to share best practices with organizations across Boeing. Bill and his team will serve as the key resource to enable organizations to set up specific plans with measurable results. We're going to involve everyone and have fun, too!

Schnettgoecke: Success with Lean+ will be measured throughout all levels of the company. We're currently in the evaluation process to determine which measures will be best to show the results. Economic Profit remains the overarching metric that we use to measure our success and health as a company, and how we run the business with Lean+ will be embedded in that scorecard.

Q: How can employees help the Lean+ initiative right now?

Mulally: Remember that Lean+ is not a one-time effort, but something that should become embedded in the work we do each day at Boeing. Lean is a process, not an end in itself. And we'll be working to see that it becomes part of the operating rhythm of the company and all of our business plan reviews.

Schnettgoecke: It all starts with employees understanding how they can contribute to improving productivity. A focus on the relentless elimination of waste, shortening lead times and cycle time, reducing transactions, and improving quality while adding value are the things our employees can do in their daily work that add up to huge benefits for the company.

Additionally, we encourage employees to learn how surrounding teams have engaged in Lean and to work with their supervisors to discuss what Lean means to their specific job. Many of our employees have been on the Lean journey for some time now, but Lean+ opens the door to further improve operating efficiency for the long term and thus provide growth.


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