In the Lean community outside of home building, Lean experts rarely talk about profit, especially in the early going, as if it’s a dirty word. I once heard a noted Lean “Sensei” (the master level designation for Lean practitioners) say with defiance to a senior executive, “Your focus on money demonstrates a lack of commitment to Lean.” My observation was that the executive’s concern about financial savings was in direct proportion to the Sensei’s cavalier attitude toward profit.
If Lean consultants working with your suppliers and trades cannot show you significant, six- or seven-figure dollar savings in one week without cutting supplier and trade margins, pull the consultants’ stripes and send them packing. Showing the money early brings broad support and buy-in that makes implementation dramatically easier. But here’s the key: In the “show them the money” equation, “them” must include suppliers and trades, as well as the builder. If they win, the builder wins even more.