What Sales Can Learn From Lean Manufacturing — Part 5

By Dave Brock

Ana_J / Pixabay

Whew, we are getting to the end of this series! Thanks to those of you who have hung in and contributed. I’ll be packaging this as an eBook, give me a couple of weeks, but email me if you want a copy.

We’ve gone through the philosophies and principles underlying the Toyota Production System, (TPS), in the past 4 posts of this series.

In this post I’d like to focus on some of the challenges we face in applying these methods in sales and marketing, as well as some of the misleading thinking around the application of these principles.

As you’ve seen, the principles actually have little do to with manufacturing–it’s when you start applying them to particular processes or problems that you start seeing unique applications within a function. In general, they represent great business principles and practices.

The application of most of the principles is pretty easily understood. The principles that people struggle with understanding–and which are, in fact, not totally applicable to sales are Principle 3: Use “pull” systems to avoid overproduction, Principle 4, Level out the workload, and parts of Principle 2: Create continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface.

Some of the overarching goals in applying TPS to manufacturing was the reduction of waste, improving quality, and making the process as efficient as possible. Overtime, it has also evolved to increase flexibility in the workflow to enable much more effective and efficient use of production capacity.

For example, now, you can go into a manufacturing plant and see different models of cars, each with completely different features being manufactured on the same line. Technology, logistics systems, and off line processes enable the right part/component be brought to the right station at the right time.

Variability is the challenge: Variability/variance has always been one of the fundamental challenges in the implementation of TPS. The more the variability, the greater the potential for defects/bad quality, or problems at some point in the manufacturing process. Manufacturing people spend a lot of time trying to understand what drive variability and eliminating it. But in very complex manufacturing processes, sometimes this is very difficult to achieve. Examples include semiconductor, any kind of foundry/casting, and complex precision assemblies. AI is already being used to help improve quality, reduce waste, and improve efficiency as variance happens (if you are curious, I was a cofounder of an AI software company that focused on just this problem, ask me–it’s really intriguing stuff).

To manage variability, you try to do everything you can to create uniformity in the inputs, control the process steps, and the outputs. For example, if every part is exactly the same and there is never a deviation or change, you can eliminate that part as an element of variance. If at a particular station I do exactly the same things, with no deviation, I can eliminate that as an element of variance. (I’ve really simplified this, but you get the point.)

So this is where we struggle with the application of manufacturing techniques to sales Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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