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Lean Thinking - Transforming Organisational Performance

Rubicon consultants help clients to apply in practice the five principles of Lean - identifying Value and eliminating waste, mapping Value Streams across organisational boundaries, creating process Flow in response to customer Pull, and coming ever closer to the unattainable goal of Perfection.

We are currently active in applying Lean thinking in the following contexts:

lean construction; Rubicon is pioneering the introduction of Lean into the construction industry

lean service; we are currently helping clients in the utilities and financial services sectors to gain substantial benefits by adapting the techniques of Lean for administrative and customer service processes

lean production and shop-floor improvement, including 55 housekeeping programmes, set-up time reduction, total productive maintenance and team-based kaizen activities

the lean enterprise; whole-business transformation.

Lean Construction

In the last ten years Lean has been taken up by the construction industry with consistently growing enthusiasm and effectiveness.  In the beginning there was a high level of resistance within the industry with the often heard comment, "that may work for manufacturing but construction is different".  This type of statement has proved to be both true and false.  True in that a slightly different Lean approach had to be developed for the project-based environment of construction.  False in that once this had been accomplished the frameworks and methods of Lean planning systems (see Last Planner) and Lean Logistics, the application of all other Lean Principles and Lean methods are being effectively used to produce the dramatic results that have been common in manufacturing for many years.  Additionally a Lean Construction approach brings effective business management into construction companies that often suffer from casual and undisciplined methods of management (see Lean Construction Delivery System)

Within construction Rubicon Associates operate in a joint venture with The Wigzell Company (www.thewigzellcompany.com). Additionally, Brian Swain is a founding director of LCI-UK (Lean Construction Institute UK) which is a not for profit think tank for Lean in construction, associated with the Lean Construction Institute in the United States (www.leanconstruction.org  and www.lci-uk.org).

Lean Service

The tools and techniques of Lean production cannot simply be transferred to an information-based, administrative or service environment.  In such processes, the “end customer” is often also a supplier, participating in the value stream and even becoming part of the product! Since 1999 we have been working with clients and colleagues to create, test and constantly improve a Lean Service Delivery System which has led to dramatic improvements in response times, efficiency, customer perceptions and staff motivation.  Client organisations who have benefited from this include Centrica (British Gas), GE Europe, Olympus UK, Norwich Union and dm drogeriemarkt (Austria).  We have recently created a powerful simulation exercise called Answercard which allows participants to experience the benefits of Lean re-design in a contact centre and back office context.

Click on this link Lean Service Design to read more about this approach.

Lean Production

In 1990 Jones and Womack wrote their seminal book, "The Machine That Changed the World" in which they coined the phrase "Lean Production" to describe the type of manufacturing methods and results found at Toyota.  There are now many books written on this phenomenon, its methods and approaches.  At its heart is Lean Production; this is about creating value for the consuming customer and eliminating everything else that does not directly contribute to this value creation, i.e. waste. Rubicon Associates have successfully applied the principles and practices of Lean in a number of manufacturing facilities throughout the UK (see Hathaway Roofing case study).

Lean Enterprise

Lean is actually a total approach to doing business.  It is best known for its process / Value Stream improvement approaches but in fact the effective implementation of a Lean strategy is a company-wide activity affecting all levels of an organisation and all aspects - culture, systems, processes, customer relations, product development and support systems.  The implementation of a Lean Enterprise strategy requires the understanding, commitment and engagement of managers at all levels, as it is a top to bottom, end-to-end process - and once begun, it never ends.

Rubicon Associates have from the very beginning of our work with Lean taken an enterprise approach to Lean transformations.  We believe that ultimately, the only effective way of implementing and sustaining a Lean transformation is that everyone in the organization adopts Lean as their way of working and doing business.

You can contact us by phone on (+44) (0)1342 825065 or by email info@rubiconassociates.com