Lean thinking and organizational culture
MBA, Executive Education, Post Graduate Diploma
The case details the adoption of lean thinking at K-Way, a contemporary technical textile manufacturer of outdoor apparel and accessories. The case covers the 12-year journey at K-Way, detailing the process and cultural improvements the company underwent. The case closes as Bobby, the General Manager at K-Way, thinks about his new challenges. The CEO of K-Way’s parent company, Cape Union Mart, wants Bobby to start devolving the lean thinking approach to other units within Cape Union Mart, in particular a newly acquired and under-performing children’s clothing business. Bobby is excited at the prospect, but simultaneously anxious about the work that still needs to happen at K-Way and more importantly, whether the organization is ready for his, and his key consultant-coach’s withdrawal as the primary “voices” of lean thinking. Would there be a reversal of progress in their absence and how can they counter this?
Expected learning outcomes
Understanding lean thinking as a management system and not a mere set of tools for waste reduction, while recognizing the importance of waste reduction. An understanding of how to entrench lean thinking in an organization after initial adoption with specific emphasis on the following: Kata and scientific thinking – what it is and how it can be employed; Hoshin Kanri/Strategy Deployment – what it is and how it can be used; Leader Standard Work, what it is and how it can be used. Consider responses for a company that has been on a lean journey for 10 years, with a focus on how (or if) lean leaders can withdraw from the operation.
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CSS: 9: Operations and logistics
The authors wish to thank the management and staff at K-Way for their collaboration in the generation of this case study.
Disclaimer. This case is written solely for educational purposes and is not intended to represent successful or unsuccessful managerial decision-making. The authors may have disguised names; financial and other recognizable information to protect confidentiality.
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