April 2006 
Volume 04, Issue 11 
Around Boeing

Lean+: supporting the businesses

Bill Schnettgoecke

I get a lot of questions about what Lean+ is. Lean+ is about productivity, efficiency and execution. It's about using the powerful Lean tools and resources we have across Boeing and taking their utilization to the next level. It's about migrating our techniques to our suppliers and customers. It's about expanding Lean deeper into our office areas and back shops. But even more, Lean+ is about culture change. I'd call it a cultural evolution. When each of us realizes that we are the producers of a product or a service, we can then focus on the systematic, relentless elimination of waste in the processes we use. These are familiar concepts; Lean + is about the expansion of those concepts and about doing it with more velocity.

Our approach is this: Lean+ is not a separate initiative but an enabler. The business units own their business plans. Through training and learning, more of our current employees will become Lean practitioners or experts who are already embedded in the business units. We work horizontal integration of Lean tools and processes via the process councils and functions. A new, single Lean website will consolidate existing sites to provide a one-stop shop for employees to access on-line training, contact the Lean focals in their areas, view Lean successes of others and more.

The Lean+ initiative team is up and running and based, in the best lean fashion, on an already existing team whose membership spans the enterprise. It's not an additional activity outside of how we run the business. We have defined our mission, objectives, deliverables, scope and operational approach.

While Lean+ has ongoing process improvements in our factories, our efforts will be increasingly focused in the office environment. We've got some great opportunities for Lean+ when we consider transactions, backlogs, queue times, etc. Lean+ principles will also be used with our suppliers as we tie our efforts into the Global Sourcing initiative. This means we will expand and improve access to the Lean toolkit, processes, and talented practitioners that we have developed over the years.

Lean+ is very much about relationships. Lean+ will enable and encourage us to work together more closely as one Boeing company rather than separate entities as in the past. Sharing best practices and learning from each other will create a natural bond. It's still amazing to see the many great things that are going on around the company. We want to help improve that!

Leadership is a critical element of Lean+. Typically in organizations where Lean has become a way of life, you will find a trail of strong leadership embracing, believing in and creating the sustained culture of continuous improvement. We all need to step up as leaders to spread this culture and make it a way of life.

Our 2006 foundational goals will pave the way for near- and long-term success. Our first goal is education and familiarization to help employees understand the enabling powers of the production system and the cultural evolution that is required. Employees at all levels of the organization must understand their business targets and how Lean+ can enable the achievement of those targets. People link the system.

Second, we're focused on replication, which is sharing our successes around the enterprise so we can all benefit from what Boeing collectively knows. Certain work cells have used Lean practices to make significant improvements, but you can literally look across the aisle or across the street and see that adjacent areas aren't embracing it. So let's take Lean "next door." We often look outside of the company for solutions that someone inside the company has already solved. We just don't know it. Replication, not reinvention, is the key here.

My final point is about leverage. In taking Lean to the next level we need to make sure that our limited resources are applied to our highest-value areas. In many cases Lean has been deployed in the places of least resistance. And that is a great start! It helps us change the culture and we certainly don't want to stifle improvements anywhere. But there are high-value areas, sometimes the hard areas that we need to tackle now. We need to ask ourselves if we are getting the most value in our deployment.

People ask when they can get started with Lean +. There's no need to wait. Familiarize yourself with the concepts, use the tools and start now.



Front Page
Contact Us | Site Map| Site Terms | Privacy | Copyright
Copyright© Boeing. All rights reserved.