How to Choose a Lean Consultant

Choosing the right mentor to help you make the difficult transition from “traditional” to “Lean” is absolutely critical.   The Wrong Choice Can Literally Cost You Millions.
Key criteria for the selection of a Lean consultant / mentor


IMPLEMENTATION EXPERIENCE:  Three or four successful client companies is NOT sufficient.  Companies and industries vary significantly, and so do the implementation techniques.  Look for someone who’s successfully done it in at least 20-30 plants, in as diverse a set of industries as possible.

CAVEAT: Experience is of little value if it resides in a person who is not actively engaged in YOUR company’s transition.  Beware the cadre of green MBA’s!  Demand that the “gurus” be intimately involved.

The Hands-On Group:  twenty-four years, and over 100 successful implementations.  Dozens of industries.  Union and non-union environments.  Small, single-site companies to multi-billion dollar behemoths.  Domestic, Europe, South America, Central America, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia, and New Zealand.   We are, by design, a small but elite organization.  We only take on a few projects at a time.  Every client has a Partner level individual leading the day-to-day transition process.  See a partial list of Clients served.

RESULTS, RESULTS, RESULTS!  What did your prospective consultant’s previous clients actually accomplish?  What kinds of clients have they worked with?  How long did it take to realize these gains?  What was the net value generated?  Minimum ROI’s should exceed 10 to 1.

Caveat: Look out for the “microcosm trick”.  It’s very easy to generate big results in one small area.   What kind of results did they generate for the TOTAL COMPANY?

The Hands-On Group:  Our results data speaks for itself.  Not only do we average well over a 20 to 1 return, but in the capital intensive industries (metals, paper, plastics, etc.) we’re averaging close to 100 to 1!  We are more than self funding, typically, within the first three months.  Our process generates huge gains in CASH (through inventory reduction), Responsiveness (through lead-time reduction), Quality, Delivery Performance, and Operating Costs.  See some actual Results achieved.

MATURITY / CREDIBILITY:  A successful change agent must have the ability to convince people at all levels of the organization.  Lots of consultants can do an adequate job on the shop floor.  Make sure your mentor can be effective in the boardroom as well.

The Hands-On Group:  The ability to convince people, particularly at the middle and upper management ranks, demands a depth of experience and wisdom that only “battle scars” can provide.  We’ve been there, and it shows.  Read about management implications of transitioning to Lean.

CORPORATE EXECUTIVE EXPERIENCE:  Look out for the “purist.”  Your sensei must be grounded in real-world business realities.  There is no better way to gain this perspective than to have “served time” as a senior executive in a manufacturing enterprise.  “Those that can… Do.  Those that can’t… Teach”  Find someone who has proven he / she can “DO.”

The Hands-On Group:  We practice what we preach.  HOG owned and operated two successful manufacturing corporations.  Our Partner level project managers have all held senior management positions in manufacturing organizations, and have been intimately involved in all aspects of corporate leadership.

ACTION BIAS:  I recall a plant that I visited.  They’d been “transitioning to lean” for 14 months.  The total result: a notebook full of data!  Don’t pay for “studies”.  Pay for results.  A good lean consultant should be continuously pushing your company.  DO IT!  DO IT NOW!

The Hands-On Group:  Our process is specifically designed to harvest the “Low Hanging Fruit” early in the implementation process.  Quick, early results help achieve momentum and convince the skeptics (and you WILL have skeptics!).  It also provides the necessary cash needed to eliminate future roadblocks.  Read about our “Just Do It” approach.

PROCESS:  Look for a consultant that has a proven overall process.  One that will generate not only substantial quick returns, but will also enforce a culture of continuous improvement.  Beware the “solution looking for a problem” approach.

The Hands-On Group:  A client recently called our process his “unifying force.”  Top level goals are established with your management team.  These goals, along with the methodology to achieve them, are then propagated down through the organization.  Objectives and measurements (goal curves) are aligned at all levels of the organization.  We provide Top Management with a control mechanism to achieve their priority objectives.  And, our process literally FORCES a culture of continuous improvement.  Learn about our “Rapid Impact™” process.

VALUE VS. COST:  Consultants come in all shapes, sizes, and capabilities.  Literally anyone can “hang out a shingle” and claim to be a expert.  However, like the other professions, the best value is generally NOT the least expensive.  When attempting to make the difficult transition to World Class operating practices, the “low-cost bidder” can save you thousands of dollars, … And quite literally cost you millions.  This is “open heart surgery” for your company. Hire the best.

The Hands-On Group:  The concepts that we teach are basic and easy to understand at all levels of the organization.  The difficulty is not in understanding the philosophy.  It’s in making it happen within your organization.  We’ve followed behind other consultants, and generated millions that had been “left on the table.”  Hire the best.

What’s the next step?  Schedule a site visit.

Our initial assessment visit takes only a couple of days.  We’ll provide you, and your team, a brief overview of the lean philosophy, explain and demonstrate our “Rapid Impact” process, identify the expected results and time frame to achieve them, and provide an estimate of the out-pocket investment and a conservative ROI you’ll likely achieve.

We’ve got a track record of continuing dramatic bottom-line successes since 1988!   Drop us a note, or give us a call.   There is no charge for a discussion and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed

Jack B. Harrison
Senior Partner
The Hands-On Group

One reply on “How to Choose a Lean Consultant”

I have gone through your website & article, what I need to know is have your organisation implemented lean in middle east? As I could not see any middle east companies in your diversified listing. It would be good to know if the concept has been applied in refrigeration industries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *