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Metrics for Lean Manufacturing

A Few Principles for Motivation, Control & Problem Solving 

Accounting and financial metrics measure only the end result from a long series of business and manufacturing processes. They do not help control the processes, solve problems or motivate people.

Lean metrics go beyond traditional financial and accounting measurements. Here are some general principles:

Lord Kelvin on Measurement

Lord Kelvin

"If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it."


Principles of Metrics

Keep It Simple

Use metrics that are easy to compile and update. Complex calculations or metrics that require excessive work do not get updated or people fake the data.

Use Tripwires

Simple metrics may not reveal the problem source. This is OK. The daily or weekly metric only needs to alert you that a problem exists.

Limit The Metrics

Each person or team should have 3-6 daily or weekly metrics. More than this and the metrics do not get monitored. These metrics do not have to contain all the information that the person or group will ever need; they should just signal an alert.

Drill Down When Problems Arise

When a "tripwire" metric indicates a deviation, you can investigate further to find the source of the problem. This may require additional data that is not continually gathered, processed and analyzed.

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