Jamie Flinchbaugh is a founder and partner of the Lean Learning Center in Novi, MI, and the co-author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Lean: Lessons from the Road. He is a coach and consultant to executives and practitioners in industries ranging from hospitals to high technology. You can follow his writings on his blog at www.jamieflinchbaugh.com. To contact Jamie directly, go to the web site www.leanlearningcenter.com.
Companies have applied 5S so pervasively that many regard it as a system or process unto itself. Unfortunately, the vast majority of 5S applications that I witness do not live up to their full potential in terms of delivering results.
Benchmarking is the practice of learning from your peers, and using that learning for continuous improvement. While not created in the context of lean, it is a universally applied tool that is very consistent with lean thinking. It turns out, however, that most benchmarking has little positive impact on the organization doing it.
Before everyone called it lean, that collection of practices and ideas, mostly adopted from Toyota, was commonly referred to as just-in-time manufacturing. Books like Robert "Doc" Hall's Attaining Manufacturing Excellence, published in 1986, opened our eyes to the concept.