Lean management: good and bad sides
After having enjoyed great popularity in the industrial sector, lean management is inviting itself to service sector companies. Basically, the processes implemented in industrial factories are taken up and applied to employees in the tertiary sector.
Brief definition of lean management
Lean management aims to increase production capacity by reducing the cost and time needed to make each product, while eliminating waste in the process. Modeled after the ideas of Taiichi Ohno, the inventor of the Toyota Production System, lean aims to provide the most efficient and least costly service to the customer.
The benefits of lean management include
The advantages of lean management
The lean management method seeks to satisfy the customer by offering a fast and inexpensive service. To this end, it deploys a whole set of actions and processes carefully thought out beforehand. This method aims to improve the production process, and to do so, it seeks to eliminate the slightest waste and improve quality.
The advantage is obvious from the customer’s point of view: the company wants to deliver a quality product in a short time at a low price. Everything is done to satisfy the customer.
The advantage is also clearly perceptible from the company’s point of view, since during the production process, by reducing time, resources and machines, the total cost will be lowered.
So the customer expects less and pays less; the company wastes less, produces more and sells more: everything seems to go well.
But is this really the case?
The evils of lean management
In this frantic race for productivity, there is collateral damage, and not the least: the consequences on employees. Indeed, it is the workers who are the worst off in this equation: they are made to work at very high speeds, their actions are increasingly limited and repetitive, they are only a tiny link in the production process.
This is very harmful for several reasons: on the one hand for the health of the worker who can be very impacted by repetitive postures and gestures, both physically and mentally; on the other hand it makes his status very precarious since he can be replaced very easily, and is already replaced more and more by machines.
This system can also be very dehumanizing for the employees who are scrutinized, studied and used like robots in a production line of which they have no control.
So yes, lean management can give very good results in terms of company productivity, but it is still necessary not to neglect the employees and not to transform them into interchangeable robots.