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Orry Fiume

Orry Fiume: Get field sales people to participate in shop floor kaizens!

By Orry Fiume, - Last updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

I agree with the observation that the Lean movement has failed to recognize the importance of the sales team in capitalizing on Lean as a growth engine.  And I believe that the answer goes back to when we in the western world first started to become aware of what the “Japan, Inc” (AKAToyota) was doing.  It first manifested itself as “Just In Time” and we interpreted that as “just in time inventory management”.  Later we recognized that JIT was part of something larger and we called that the “Toyota Production System”.  But we were wrong in both cases.  Because we failed to understand it as the Toyota Business System, we believed that it is just some manufacturing tactic.  Those early companies that succeeded (e.g. Danaher, Wiremold, Lantec, etc) understood that what Toyota was doing was approaching the market with a different strategy and the production piece of it was one one element of this strategy.  At Wiremold we insisted that all field sales people had to participate in shop floor kaizens.  In this way the could see the disruption that they caused by encouraging customers to order in big batches while at the same time they began to recognize how shorter lead times (from weeks to days) would enhance their ability to meet customers needs.  And once they began to understand the concepts, principles and tools of Lean they began to apply them to their own sales processes…and even began to change sales terms to eliminate those terms that encouraged customers to order in big batches.  If you want to learn more about what Wiremold did in all areas of the company (production, sales, HR, accounting, engineering, marketing, etc) in implementing its Lean Strategy, read “Better Thinking, Better Results” by Bob Emiliani, et al. It’s a ten year study of Wiremold’s Lean transformation and is still the best book on the market that pulls it all together.

Regards
Orry

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