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Lean Culture: It All Starts with a Value Stream Transformation

Transformation team from Jabil Vienna working on a Value Stream Map.

Can leadership dictate culture? Yes. In fact, company leaders set the tone for the organization not only by defining the vision, but also by hiring talent and mentoring and motivating their employees. As a result, they create the organizational culture.

For global manufacturing, a core of the culture had better be extraordinary customer service. That’s why value stream transformation, a way of looking at the flow of products from a customer’s perspective, is so important.

Understanding what is done today helps identify things that are not value-added in the eyes of the customer. It all starts with understanding the customer’s point of view and then analyzing the value stream that causes the most pain points.

“At Jabil,  our Lean Councils forms teams to create process flow charts. These flow charts allow us to see a complete picture of all value-added opportunities and then we can identify the non-value added ones and eliminate them to increase the process flow,” said Walter Garvin, Vice President, Lean Six Sigma at Jabil. Some people call it the “learning to see” activity, as it creates a visual representation of all of the steps involved in a production of a product or a service and allows for better decision making.

To foster this culture, Jabil established training programs such as the three-tier Lean. These training programs also ensure all employees speak the same language. The language of Lean. It shapes employees’ understanding of how to identify customer pain points and how to resolve them using a scientific approach that starts with a process flow chart.

“Value stream transformation is important, so you understand where to focus your energy and effort to get the greatest maximum benefit that impacts the quality of the product,” added Garvin.

How does Lean manufacturing differ from traditional manufacturing? Generally speaking, traditional manufacturing follows a batch system to build products. “The down side to this, from a lean standpoint, is you don’t understand nor have the visibility to any quality problems until you reach the next process step,” said Walter Garvin.

How do you build a Lean culture? Start at the top. The key to building a Lean culture is ensuring that all management levels understand, live and breathe Lean. At Jabil, that includes requiring all operations managers around the world to complete Lean certification and the ASQ Black Belt certification programs. These managers ensure that Jabil’s Lean culture is sustained throughout the 90+ plants in 23 countries in which Jabil operates. “We teach in our programs that if you want to change the culture, look in the mirror. That is why Jabil has been so successful with Lean. Our management is living it,” said Garvin.

Walter Garvin

Walter Garvin is Jabil’s Vice President, Lean Six Sigma. Walt joined Jabil in 2000 as an Industrial Engineering Manager, has served as a European Operations Development Manager, Global Technical Director, and Americas Operations Development Manager. Prior to Jabil, Garvin worked in various Engineering roles in Plastics, Stamping, Textiles and Die Casting Operations. Walt earned a Bachelor of Science from Clemson University, a Masters in Industrial & Systems Engineering and an MBA both from the University of Florida.

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