This is a challenging article for me to write. Not that he subject challenges me, but my emotions do. I have
been writing for FDMC and its predecessor magazines for nearly 18 years. I
have witnessed Lean Thinking emerge
from almost zero participation in the
furniture industry to becoming the
solution that every visionary business
leader is pursuing. I am thankful that I
could play a role in the transformation
Consulting has been a challenge
as well, especially in the furniture
industry where budgets are tight and
business owners would rather deal with
problems on their own, in a vacuum. I
can’t claim 100-percent success at every
company I have worked with over the
past 26 years, but the percentage has
been very high. With that thought as a
lead-in for this article, I want to share
my experience for a successful lean
Brad Cairns, the owner of Best
Damn Door in St. Thomas, Ontario,
Canada, and the new senior partner
at The Center for Lean Learning, is
presenting a series on successfully ap-
plying Lean Thinking at the Cabinet
and Closet Expo as I write this article.
Brad was a client of mine several years
ago, and I am proud to have him as my
protégé. You will be hearing more from
Brad in this time slot as he takes the
helm for these articles as well.
I encourage you to keep up to date
with Brad, and the wonderful work at
The Center, by following him on You-Tube at The Center for Lean Learning.
Before Brad left for the Expo he asked
me to synthesize Lean into seven steps.
I hesitated to tackle his request
because my response might give the
impression that a lean transformation
has some magic formula that can be
applied for success. That is certainly
not the case.
It is a long, arduous journey. To
apply lean thinking successfully, leaders must be persistent, patient, and
resolutely sincere. Having clarified that
position, I cautiously replied to Brad.
It has been my experience that every
successful lean transformation includes
at least the following:
1. Leadership commitment. Every
leader endeavoring to apply lean thinking can attest that without leadership
commitment, lean should never be
launched. To understand more about
the leader’s commitment, I suggest you
contact Dustin Hunter, CEO of Hunter
Trim and Cabinets, at (940) 841-0025
or email at dustin@huntertrimandcabi-
nets.com; and/or Elvin Martin, CEO
of Mullet Door, at (864) 446-3330 or
email at email@example.com.
2. Retain a professional Sensei
(teacher). This step does not imply that
you aren’t capable of achieving some
modicum of success on your own, but
Seven steps to lean
Every successful lean transformation involves at least these seven things.
See more at the
See more columns at
; Want more? Read archived Jim Lewis columns at
Jim Lewis has worked in the furniture industry for 40 years
with a special emphasis on facilitating the transformation
process for businesses embracing the Lean Business Model.
He founded The Center for Lean Learning, which is now
headquartered in St. Thomas, ON, Canada, and led by
Brad Cairns. Lewis is still active as a consultant for the firm.