Cabinet company improved both profitability and employee engagement with help from Lean Focus.
Previously, the company had implemented Lean principles, but the emphasis was primarily on production. The company utilized a team of Lean experts to address critical issues throughout the organization. Although this approach yielded positive results in specific areas, it did not achieve a comprehensive transformation across the entire business. Despite the success of Lean practices in certain production units, doubts persisted regarding its applicability to other aspects of the company, particularly office functions.
Lean was just about tools and experts. It wasn’t a part of the company’s culture.
Early 2020 was an unfortunate time to restart a Lean transformation. The company nonetheless persevered and refined its approach. Starting first with the appointment of key executives in leadership, they laid out a vision to be the best place to work, while driving operational efficiency and improved profitability.
While the vision came from the top, engagement and deployment took hold at all levels of the organization. The team engaged Lean Focus to together build a cultural foundation to drive the adoption of a Lean mindset. Key to enabling this adoption, was the appointment of dedicated Continuous Improvement (CI) Leaders that reported into each business unit, with guidance from a centralized Corporate CI team. This reporting structure reinforced the concept that business units were empowered to solve their own problems.
In the past three years, the company has conducted more than 400 Kaizen events that have involved over half its’ workforce.
These events taught Lean tools, such as Standard Work and 6S, that enabled employees to improve their own processes. Lean transformation has helped improve their engagement score by 7% in 2022 vs prior year. Recognition has played a critical part in this, as >250K peer-to-peer awards have been given since the Lean transformation was relaunched. The Kaizen events generated an estimated annualized savings of >$40M in the first three years, far exceeding internal targets.