he says. Defining, measuring and communicating program goals and how they
will be achieved from the start—and then on a routine basis—can reduce the
likelihood of bottlenecks, gaps and rework.
The most effective lean programs communicate the principles holis-
tically across multiple teams, projects and departments, because every
change has consequences that should be deliberately recognized. “You
can’t do lean in a silo, and program management plays a pivotal role in
ensuring efficiencies are leveraged across the organization,” Mr. Pervaaz
says. “For example, if you adopt lean techniques to reduce product manu-
facturing cycle time, you need to think about how that will impact commu-
nications, sales and finance teams.”
Taking that holistic view translates the benefits of lean across the program and,
in fact, across the organization—and reduces the risk of future bottlenecks.
Still, adopting lean enablers isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition, says Ms.
Giraud. “The biggest challenge is selecting the right enablers that will add the
Organizations shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the sheer number of the enabler
options, adds Dr. Oppenheim. “The biggest transformation journey starts with a
single step. Applying even one lean enabler can make a difference.”
He encourages program managers to review all the enablers, select two
or three that could help them meet their biggest needs and make them
formal practices in their program management process. As those enablers
drive results, they will demonstrate the value of lean to the program team
and leadership, making it easier to earn buy-in for adopting more enablers
in the future.
“Your approach has to be based on a thorough understanding of the organization,” he adds. Lean doesn’t replace good thinking; it enhances it. PM
“You need to ensure you understand
how each lean initiative fits into the
corporate framework, what synergies
exist between initiatives, and the
desired result of each initiative
individually and holistically.”
—Viq Pervaaz, Aon, New York, New York, USA
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The LEAP team got involved early on in the KC- 46 program, when Mr.
Stephenson invited the group to moderate a kickoff meeting with all key
stakeholders across the life cycle of the program, including engineers, program mangers and factory teams. Because some of the biggest challenges
occur during the transition to manufacturing, he wanted to bring everyone
together as early as possible—before critical decisions were locked down.
Together they created a 13-foot (4-meter) value stream map that
laid out every task and decision leading up to the transition, along with
deadlines and exit criteria.
This step helped ensure nothing was missed, he says. “What’s key to the
customer is usually evident early on, but there are many decisions that are
important for operations and testing that may not be as evident.”
For example, in the meeting team members identified the need to man-
date standardized screws so the manufacturing line wouldn’t have to change
out tools, and they specified specific circuit-board test pads that would give
test engineers the most coverage. They also ran all the selected materials
through a customized procurement software tool that assesses each com-
ponent against Rockwell Collins’s list of preferred vendors and products.
“The tool flags any component not on the preferred list and suggests
an alternative,” Mr. Stephenson says.
This is especially useful because designers may choose materials
for certain characteristics without considering the cost of manufacturing implications. “They may be indifferent between component A
or component B, but we can achieve significant savings by selecting
materials from preferred partners,” he says.
Once they mapped out the steps, Mr. Stephenson’s team set
deadlines for each task and decision. “The secret sauce is knowing
when decisions need to be made in order for engineers to incorporate them into their designs,” he says.
For example, if design engineering, test engineering and operations plans are not concurrently executed, minor updates, such
as adding a test point or changing to a preferred part, could drive
rework or requalification. These forms of waste can be avoided
through simulation, 3D modeling and including critical stakeholders
in design reviews, Mr. Stephenson says.
In the end, value-stream mapping took only six hours, but it
resulted in measurable savings across the program. “In the beginning
people worried, ‘How can we afford to put all these resources into
lean planning?’” he says. “But I was able to show that it doesn’t take
a lot of resources to get results.”