Promoting the flow of value to the customer is key. In many cases, businesses fall short, as organizational structures haven’t fully developed how to effectively provide value. When it comes to promoting the flow of value to the customer, an excellent methodology is the LEAN approach, in other words, through two guiding tenets: continuous improvement and respect for people.
Worcester Air Conditioning LLC’s president and CEO, James Morgan, discusses the importance of LEAN practices and building a structured, continuous approach to process improvement in an organization.
What is the LEAN approach?
The LEAN approach is both a philosophy and a discipline, which, at its core, increases access to information to ensure responsible decision making in the service of creating customer value. While the concept isn’t new, its modern application to business is constantly evolving — and rightfully so. As businesses continually evolve, so too does the LEAN approach.
Born in the field of manufacturing.
Before the LEAN approach was known as a business practice, it was first used as an approach in the manufacturing process. And while it maintains its hold in manufacturing, it has also found new applications in knowledge in organizational structures, helping businesses in all industries, including construction, eliminate waste, improve processes, and boost innovation.
“At Worcester Air, we began our journey in 2010. LEAN is a never-ending practice that seeks continuous improvement in every process in our company. We have trained over 100 employees, union and non-union, in the principles of continuous improvement,” notes James Morgan, who also acknowledged that since implementing the LEAN approach, Worcester Air has seen great improvements in operational outcomes, including a total redesign of its fabrication shop equipment layout based on a design generated by shop floor employees.
James Morgan on LEAN’s effectiveness and benefits .
After adopting a LEAN approach, an organization will receive continuous improvement as a daily mindset and practice. According to James Morgan, there are three direct benefits of taking the LEAN approach for organizations.
1. Maximizes value and optimizes business improvement.
LEAN organizations focus on creating value, meaning they will do anything to learn what customers want and need, working to reduce any activity that does not deliver value to the customer. By working continuously to improve a “value stream,” an organization will not only provide more value for the customer but will also make it easier and more enjoyable for the company to do business day in and day out.
2. Empowers employees.
LEAN leadership approaches will empower your employees by giving them the independence to make decisions and providing them the opportunity to master their craft and their purpose, says James Morgan. Organizations and leaders who take on the LEAN approach will allow employees to discover the most appropriate course of action toward organizational goals.
3. Gives all stakeholders an equal voice.
LEAN thinking encourages input from everyone, especially those closest to the product, to have an equal voice. As a result, stakeholders become more motivated to do their best work, and will optimize their time and talent to create the most value for both the organization and the customer.
The Bottom Line.
While adopting a LEAN approach for your organization may seem like a good idea, you should first analyze your business model to ensure that this is the best approach for you to take. It is important to keep your organizational structure before undertaking any large-scale changes. It is also worth talking over this approach with your team to ensure everyone is on board. There are many books on the topic and many different flavors of LEAN. Morgan suggests you learn and adapt techniques that will work best with your firm.
Since 2008, James Morgan has led the company, where he began implementing the LEAN approach just two years later. For more than half a century, Worcester Air Conditioning LLC has been a leader in sheet metal solutions for commercial and industrial projects throughout eastern New England. The company delivers exceptional quality through knowledge, innovation, and the most efficient production facility in the Northeast.