Researcher shows organizations how to get lean for the long run

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On March 10, 2009

Organizations looking to improve business and streamline processes will soon have a new resource to help achieve their goals, thanks to a new book by Dr. Elizabeth Cudney, assistant professor of engineering management and systems engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

Cudney’s book, Hoshin Kanri to Improve the Value Stream, will be released on March 10.

The book is a complete how-to guide that any organization can employ to start a “lean” effort correctly and keep it on track. Emphasizing practical examples garnered over years of hands-on experience, Cudney shows how organizations can put key principles to work.

Chapter by chapter, the book defines key tools, such as Six Sigma, 5S, and mistake proofing, that an organization can employ to initiate needed process improvements.

As a leading expert on quality, Cudney points out that organizations often fail at improvement because they go after symptomatic problems rather than the faulty system-wide processes at the root of those problems. This can be avoided by using value stream mapping to create a current-state map. Done properly, this map will help everyone in an organization understand how they deliver value to customers and where flawed processes cause them to fall short.

The next step is to create a future-state map that defines the best processes. Although it may be simple to see where improvements need to be made, it is often difficult to prioritize and ensure that goals are met.

This is where Cudney brings in another lean tool. “Hoshin Kanri,” the art of policy deployment, encourages a systematic approach focusing on long-term strategy. It inspires a positive mindset by starting with improvements affecting flow across the entire organization. In addition to improving the delivery of value, changes with broad impact will catch people’s attention, encourage their involvement and increase the momentum of improvement.

“Every industrial engineer should purchase this book,” says Marjorie Koch, president of the Lean Division of the Institute of Industrial Engineers. “It provides the key to using the Hoshin Kanri framework and integrating it with the foundations of industrial engineering.”

Cudney plans to hold a signing for her book on April 3 at the American Society for Quality spring conference in St. Louis, and on June 2, at the Institute of Industrial Engineers annual conference in Miami, Fla.

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On March 10, 2009. Posted in Research, Top Headlines