With the shift in Enterprise development to Enterprise and Supplier Development many companies will now start considering Lean Supplier Development as a methodology to develop their suppliers. See our post on Supplier Development in South Africa for more information on this.
The Lean or continuous improvement movement is built around a major component which is the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA) cycle. This cycle has at its core the emphasis on learning based on data collection, problem solving and implementation. This has also been revered to as the scientific method.
What distinguishes lean from other managerial movements is the focus not only on the processes in an organisation, but also on the people that implement and manage the processes. The philosophy of lean is based on the belief that all humans are creative and that employees should not only be recognised for the productive value that they offer, but also the creative value that they offer.
The organisational DNA in a learning or continuous improvement organisation is therefore made up of three major elements. If the process and the people in the organisation can be seen as the two most important aspects of the DNA, then the connection between them should be viewed as problem solving. Problem solving is the mechanism that engages a workforce, stimulates creativity and leads to value creation.
Many companies go through the process of implementing lean tools, but not a lean transformation. This leads to initial success in a reduction of waste, but ultimately leads to greater problems as employees become frustrated that their ideas and the value they add is not recognised.
The same principles holds true when applying lean supplier development in your supply chain. An article by Simons and Economou (2002) from the American Society for Quality recognises that value creation in your supply chain process is based on a trust relationship that engages you suppliers. What is required is collaborative relationships and problem solving both in your organisation, but also across your organisation with your suppliers.