AME: Will Lean survive the next generation?

As we experience generational shifts in the workforce across North America, we have to start considering how this shift in generational occupancy will impact the deployment, integration and acceptance of Lean.

12/09/2014


As we experience generational shifts in the workforce across North America, we have to start considering how this shift in generational occupancy will impact the deployment, integration and acceptance of Lean. Courtesy: AMEOne of the reasons Lean is powerful as a management philosophy is that it brings together various and often diverse stakeholders, empowering them to collectively effect change. It achieves this by validating or dispelling past beliefs, piercing cultural boundaries within the organization and creating a common vision among employees regardless of tenure, knowledge or experience.

As we experience generational shifts in the workforce across North America, with Baby Boomers moving into retirement and a growing presence of Millennials, we have to start considering how this shift in generational occupancy will impact the deployment, integration and acceptance of Lean.

For the answer to this question, we need to contrast a few key variables that exist between the Millennial generation and previous generations as they relate to adoption of Lean.

Collaboration
The Millennials, or Generation Y as they are often referred to, seek to work in a collaborative environment. They have grown to thrive in environments where cross-functional teams exist, and they are seeking similar environments when they arrive in the workforce. Their desires for cross-functional groups support Lean philosophies, but they will rely on all participants having an equal say. Individuals who dominate team discussions turn the Millennials off; therefore maintaining a highly collaborative environment where every opinion is of equal importance is critical to ensure that the best ideas are brought forth and adopted.

Perspectives

I've noticed during the last few years that it's the Millennials who grow increasingly impatient with inactivity during Lean implementations. From my experience, they are more prone to take quick action and make adjustments on the fly than previous generations. When you consider that the Millennials are generally the highest educated generation ever to enter the workforce, having become accustomed to instantaneous information availability, this only makes sense. Relative to Lean, our considerations must shift toward how to keep Millennials stimulated with new ideas to keep them engaged and committed to the vision.

Adaptability
According to a Wall Street Journal article, "Get to the Good Part," Millennials have recognizably shorter attention spans than previous generations. This attention span results in the Millennials having an ability to adapt and respond quickly to problems or challenges that might present themselves. This bodes well in a Lean environment, but can create tension amid other generations who are more prone to spending time considering options. For Lean to be effective, Millennials will have to be continuously stimulated with rapid action and deployment, as doing anything else will lead to a lack of attention and diminished engagement.

Considering these distinctions, it's clear that Lean will evolve from an optional "journey" for those companies wishing to do so, to a mandatory way of operating for organizations that wish to retain their highly valuable Millennial employees. The word "Lean" will, in and of itself, have significantly less meaning as companies form new and stimulating environments to attract, stimulate and retain new generations.

So how can we adapt? We will need to place greater effort on formulating the type of environments that Millennials are drawn to, relying less on structured tools such as SWOT analysis, and putting a greater emphasis on building communities that stimulate and produce new ideas.

Shawn Casemore is the president and founder of Casemore and Company, Incorporated, a management consultancy helping organizations globally to improve organizational performance and build financial strength. This content originally appeared on AME Target Magazine Online. AME is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Joy Chang, digital project manager, CFE Media, jchang@cfemedia.com.



Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
Maintenance & Safety
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me