Leaning on Suppliers: The Push to Lean Manufacturing

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Redding McLemore
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Competing Priorities
Redding McLemore   9/28/2016 10:46:51 AM

The "invitation" at the top of your article is all too familiar - be it lean, green or Zero-Defect.  companies can become unwitting dupes in expanding a consulting company's engagement by "expanding the initiative to the supply chain".  What the supplier often does not know is how well received the initiative is within the customer's company.  What is being sold as the new paradigm might be a passing fad at their customer.  Then again, it may indeed be real.  This forces the supplier to walk a tightrope of engagement. 

Every company has initiatives of its own (even lean) and an customer initiative, particularly onto a well diversified supplier, forces the supplier to switch focus to be responsive to the customer, but often at the expense of their own initiatives. 

Lean, green or any other supply chain integration will be more meaningful to the supply chain when the customer represents a large portion of the supplier's business.    Failing that, a different approach is warranted.  Otherwise, customers run the risk of getting minimal buy-in and just enough supplier engagement to keep the customer at bay.

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