Lean Production Is Alive and Well in Mexico

Chris Kutalik reported here recently that there’s something called the “lean community,” which exists to (1) spread the gospel of lean production and (2) make sure the name of lean is not blasphemed. “It’s not about speedup! Workers love lean production!”

A post on Mexconnect by management consultant Daniel Little shows lean production in its true colors, though—and this is in a low-wage Mexican parts plant. Eliminating jobs, not allowing workers to control their own pace, getting employees to feel ownership of the leaning process, telling workers their jobs will be easier—the components of lean production are all there, in classic form.

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As a bonus, we get an explanation of why workers need to be ruthlessly purged even when labor costs are low: “Waste is waste…the waste of human resources is probably the worst form of waste.” It was a good day’s work for Little: he cut four workers from a line of 15.

Jane Slaughter is a former editor of Labor Notes and co-author of Secrets of a Successful Organizer.