Defining sustainability at your business

The term “sustainability” has a variety of meanings. For some companies, it refers to the ability to stay in business and maintain prosperity. For others, it could mean ecological preservation through the minimization of waste and pollution.

When discussing Lean manufacturing, however, it takes on a different definition altogether – it's a balance between the usage of available resources to achieve present needs while simultaneously striving to protect resources for the future. It's also crucial that businesses consider the “sustainability” of Lean practices themselves. For example, many companies hold Lean events, but not all businesses are able to meaningfully implement the courses of action decided at these meetings over the long term.

“While the effects of these changes may increase as more people are involved and as lean is introduced to new areas, the activities and the capabilities of those performing them may remain relatively stable,” explains Lean expert Frances Jorgensen in a research report. “On the other hand, as employees learn from their own and others' experiences, what may be viewed as a vertical progression would be expected to occur as well.”

Staying on the path to Lean success

Lean manufacturing processes have been proven to help businesses achieve both environmental and financial goals. However, companies need to be persistent with their implementation of Lean – if they can't sustain Lean practices, they won't be able to hit those long-term objectives. It's easy to fall off the path, especially considering how different Lean programs can be from more traditional procedures. The successful business is the one that can continue to implement Lean processes.

Companies can maintain Lean practices by creating a roadmap and using tools to stay on track. The end goal should be creating a Lean culture, which will make following Kaizen practices an inherent part of the way that businesses work.

“One of the important findings in this study was that Human Resource (HR) functions may play a critical role in supporting what is referred to here as 'vertical' development of Lean,” the report adds. “Specifically, training and development targeted at learning and knowledge sharing, compensation and reward schemes, and focus on lean as a means towards career development may facilitate establishment of a Lean culture that is sustainable.”

Enna's comprehensive list of training materials will help you achieve your goals and instill the Kaizen mindset throughout your organization.