Operational Excellence for the Cost Accountant

By Gary Kapanowski

In the classic movie “The Wizard of Oz,” when Dorothy wakes up after getting caught in a twister, she says to her dog, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” This sentiment perfectly applies to those undergoing lean transformation. Just like Dorothy, employees and organizations transitioning to lean go through many challenging physical and mental changes. Many studies provide data in support of this claim, with lean program failure rates of 50 to 95 percent. In a study of 1,100 companies in 2011, most companies had implemented lean (71.6 percent) and Six Sigma (58.2 percent), but only 2 percent found that lean initiatives resulted in clear financial improvement. There are many reasons for this failure rate including the lack of a standardized board of metrics, dependence on one individual, and the slow nature of improvement. To eliminate this uncertainty, operational excellence provides a direct path for organizations to produce quick results, easy-to-understand performance metrics, process-based implementation, and the direction in which to grow their business.


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