Oftentimes people who work in manufacturing companies don’t see how lean could apply in their service areas. “Our service providers don’t ‘make anything’…and they do project-based work with long cycle times. Lean works great in our plant, but there’s no way it could apply in our services.” When I hear this, I always ask the same question: “When your customers call, who are they calling?” And I inevitably get the same answer: “They’re calling our company of course!” Although internal distinctions are apparent to people working at the company, customers just see the unified whole. They don’t distinguish between the manufacturing and service portions of your business. From their point of view, they simply want what they want, when they want it, right the first time, and we need to use lean throughout our entire organization to make sure that they get it!

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