Back in December, one of our members wrote an article for The Can Opener called ‘Pinnacle Misses the Mark with Lean Manufacturing’. The response from our readers was pretty positive but management unsurprisingly had little to say about it and more or less brushed it off as the uninformed whining of an angry union member. Well, it turns out that Lean Manufacturing experts all over the world have seen that article and now Pinnacle’s name is out there in the professional Lean Manufacturing community as an example of what not to do when implementing Lean Manufacturing into your facility.
The website Iowa Labor News collects and shares Labor-related articles from all over. Occasionally, they’ll choose articles from The Can Opener to put on their site. This article, ‘Pinnacle Misses the Mark with Lean Manufacturing’, was one of them. Just three days after the article went up on iowalabornews.com, Michel Baudin, a Lean Manufacturing expert who has been consulting in the field since 1987, teaching Lean Manufacturing courses, and writing books on the subject selected that article to discuss in his blog. He said, “this union member’s criticism of his company’s implementation of Lean is remarkable for being so constructive. He does not dismiss Lean Manufacturing as just another ploy by management to squeeze more out the workers. Instead, he blames his company’s management for being Lean in name only. He quotes Mike Thelen and David Meier on what Lean is supposed to be, and contrasts it with what the company actually does.” Because his ego was not in the line of fire, Mr. Baudin actually read the article and understood and accepted it for what it was. He went on to say, “the tone of the article shows the author as a thinking man who wants to improve the way he works, exactly the kind of people you want around when genuinely implementing Lean.” “The kind of people you want around”, says this Lean Manufacturing expert of almost thirty years, yet Pinnacle disregarded every thing the article had to say.
George Hare, the Principal Consultant at Operational Excellence LLC commented that it sounded like Pinnacle was guilty of putting the cart before the horse and that the company’s leadership needed more education on Lean Manufacturing techniques. He hit the nail on the head when he said, “obviously this one person has a lot to say and thinks that no one at Pinnacle is listening.” Close, Mr. Hare; we know that no one at Pinnacle is listening.
From Michel Baudin’s blog post, The Can Opener’s article was shared and re-shared numerous times across several social and professional networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Several more professionals, including a European health technologies company helped spread the word. The article is even featured on a website called Best Lean Training. Meanwhile, Pinnacle’s management team insisted that the article’s author didn’t know what he was talking about, that he didn’t understand the reasoning behind Pinnacle’s choices. Maybe not. After all, we’re certainly not invited to their business meetings up front. But the fact remains that whatever the justification behind Pinnacle’s logic has been, what they’ve ended up with is absolutely not Lean Manufacturing. That’s just the sugar coating they’ve given to the crap they’ve been shoving down our throats for the last several years, forcing fewer employees to complete more tasks in less time with cheaper materials. That’s what the article says and every professional in the field of Lean Manufacturing worldwide could see the truth of it.
UFCW 617 The Can Opener