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Enhancing Lean Practices: Lean Adoption in the Industrial Machinery and Components Industry
Industrial Machinery and Components Industry are also known as :
Auto Components Industry,
Automotive Components Industry,
Automotive Manufacturing Industry,
Electronic Components Industry,
Industrial Machinery Auction,
Industrial Machinery Company,
Industrial Machinery Dealers,
Industrial Machinery Directory,
Industrial Machinery Industry,
Industrial Machinery Manufacturers,
Industrial Machinery Manufacturing,
Industrial Machinery Market,
Industrial Machinery News,
Industrial Machinery Repair,
Industrial Machinery Safety,
Industrial Machinery Sales,
Industrial Machinery Solutions,
Industrial Process Machinery,
Used Industrial Machinery,
Industrial Machinery New,
Industrial Machinery Mechanics,
Industrial Machinery Suppliers,
Industrial Machinery Exchange,
Industrial Machinery Systems.
With pressure mounting to improve operational performance while meeting escalating customer
requirements, companies across all industries are adopting Lean techniques in manufacturing plants
and Lean strategies in executive suites around the globe. While 66% of IM&C (industrial machinery
and components) companies are relatively new adopters of Lean, with initiatives less than three
years old, those companies with a best in class approach to Lean deployment are already reaping
the benefits. While many IM&C companies have already secured top management approval for
Lean, the companies who identify and measure critical performance frequently are the ones positioned
Figure 1: Metrics Tied to Success
Source: AberdeenGroup, March 2006
As Figure 1 demonstrates, best in class companies are responding to competitive threats by cycling
through inventory and meeting customer delivery dates, a dramatic departure from laggard companies
that fall behind by prioritizing cost concerns. Better-performing IM&C companies are following
suit by recognizing the impact on time delivery has on competitive differentiation, with 75%
(not shown) ranking this performance metric as key to success, with only 17% placing priority on
cost per unit.
In speaking with several respondents, IM&C companies revealed how their organizations were
already correlating current success directly to their Lean strategy. Best in Class IM&C companies
are quickly attaining Lean successes of their own, by moving to a make-to-order or assemble-toorder
environment. Some of the more tangible benefits included:
- Advancing from 13th to 3rd in the market with a 10% increase in market share
- Tripling throughput
- Productivity increase resulting in $40 dollars to $104 per man hour
With the possibility for near-term success, IM&C companies regardless of where they are on their
Lean journey should look to the following critical recommendations to begin the process:
Recommendations for Action:
- Focus on best in class KPIs that tie value back to the customer, on-time delivery being of
- Measure these KPIs often. Do it on a daily basis.
- Evaluate technology capabilities to enhance visibility and improve supply chain flexibility
- Evolve to a "to order" environment, "pulling" demand directly from customers
- Leverage external consultants to pioneer Lean development
- Conduct Kaizen Blitz workshops to monitor continuous improvement efforts
- Map the value stream from customer to suppliers
- Implement basic Lean production techniques
Issue at Hand
Companies adopt Lean strategies for a variety of reasons. In the automotive, aerospace,
and a growing number of other industry sectors, "going Lean" is a requirement for doing
business; it is mandated by OEMs and major aircraft companies. Also industries that ultimately
serve the consumer have seen new demands over the past few years; in many
cases expected delivery times dropped radically from weeks to days and in others mandated
price reductions are taking their toll. IM&C companies cited the need to reduce
costs and increase revenue (i.e., improving operational performance) as their top driver
for adopting Lean. While IM&C companies are relative newcomers to Lean, they are already
compelled to look to Lean with the goal of overall operational improvements (Figure
2). In comparison, best in class companies appear to be meeting customer demands,
and are now evaluating other ways to maintain competitive superiority by focusing on
Figure 2: Top Drivers of Lean
Source: AberdeenGroup, March 2006
The second most important driver cited by 62% of IM&C respondents, customers demanding
shorter order cycle times, is particularly common for those companies whose
products ultimately serve the consumer. Mahindra & Mahindra is the leading provider of
tractors to Indian farmers. Its leadership position was threatened when new international
competitors entered its domestic market. As a result, the company leaned out both its
manufacturing facilities and distribution channels to deliver new product to retailers "just in time"' for spring planting.
Through a combination of redesigned business processes,
the consolidation of supply chain partner network information, and the implementation of
SAP'S APO (Advanced Planning and Optimization) solution, M&M has achieved
marked improvements: customer service levels have improved 80% (measured weekly)
to 95% (measured daily). More information on Mahindra & Mahindra's success can be
found in Aberdeen's Lean Best Practice Report.
Forty four percent of respondents cited Competitive advantage in price and service
among their top three Lean drivers. However, since Lean is now becoming prevalent in
IM&C, today the choice to go Lean is more about avoiding being at a disadvantage by
not operating a Lean operation. The owner of a small (less than $50 million) niche milling
equipment manufacturing company, has been using Lean for less than a year and has
already achieved bottom line results and formidable market dominance. The company
has gone from 13th in the milling equipment market to 3rd, and has maintained this competitive
edge through Lean, with workforce productivity increasing from $40 to $104 per
Barriers to Adoption
For IM&C companies, the transition to a Lean manufacturing environment is a major
change for many reasons. To improve customer order delivery times, many companies
are moving to a make-to-order or an assemble-to-order environment, often causing bills
of material to be "flattened" and work processes to be "postponed" until the customer
order is received. Since the orders are now being "pulled" from the customer, work cell
teams responsible for these final processes may be free from backlog tasks and actually
be waiting for orders to initiate the processes. As a result, some of the more seasoned
operators are often uncomfortable in this environment at first.
In addition to "postponing" final processes and potentially asking operators to hold off
on production until the order arrives, employees also should accept responsibility for
continuously looking for opportunities to make continuous improvements (Kaizen) by
formally submitting ideas for consideration. As production and final processes may be
delayed due to this new pull-based system, employees should take this time to conduct
Kaizen blitzes to investigate opportunities for improvements. Many better performing
companies have idea management programs in place to encourage participation, and are
measured on the number of implemented improvements per employee, with 12-24 a reasonable
goal for year one. One company that has had Lean in place for several years related
that establishing this "hands-on experience" is key: "Everyone in the company
knows their 20 by 20 space. If there is a problem in the area, they need to come up with a
However, resistance to an entirely new program and procedures remains a daunting challenge
to 85% of IM&C respondents who cited significant culture change as their top
adoption challenge, (Figure 3.) In a follow-up survey, one participant described how this
initial reluctance to change was addressed. "From the outset there were several guys that
fought pretty hard to make sure that the (Lean manufacturing) systems wouldn't work;
there was a lot of backbiting. However, once they found out they would be working
smarter instead of harder, they got into the routine."
Figure 3: Lean Adoption Challenges
Source: AberdeenGroup, March 2006
The second most important adoption challenge for IM&C respondents is divided between
top management commitment and maintaining customer delivery performance without
costly buffers. From an operational perspective, as customer demand drives IM&C companies
to shorten order cycle times while meeting on-time delivery expectations, companies
are taxed with minimizing costly buffers.
As with any major operational change, securing upper management support is critical.
While much easier if this decision starts at the top and is driven downward through the
organization, many Lean implementations begin as grassroots efforts, which puts the
onus on the Lean champion to gain the appropriate support from above. Because Lean
has garnered so much good press over the past several years, this task has become a good
deal easier, but still remains as a challenge.
Strategic Actions of the Best in Class
Companies that are ultimately most successful with their Lean initiatives begin the process
with a "blue sky" attitude unencumbered by current constraints. Cross-functional
teams start with a white board (either physical or virtual) and collaboratively define and
design their ideal "to be" processes beginning with the customer and moving back
through production to the supplier.
Reducing non value-added manufacturing and supply chain costs was recognized by
66% of the respondents in Figure 4 as one of the most important strategic actions relative
to pursuing Lean. Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is the technique of choice for accomplishing
this goal. VSM workshops and tools are used to facilitate cross-functional brainstorming
and design processes, generally supported by paper, pencil, and yellow
"stickies" in war rooms. As cross functional teams define value streams, they develop a
shared understanding of core processes, techniques to determine and correct root cause
issues, and a joint go-forward strategy.
Figure 4: Best-in-Class Strategic Actions
The next highest priority strategic action undertaken by best-in-class Lean organizations
is to implement continuous improvement culture and methods (or Kaizen), shown at 52%
in Figure 4. This action is exemplified by Rockwell Automation. The company has considered
itself Lean for five years and has made significant improvements throughout
manufacturing and the supply chain. In terms of creating a culture of continuous improvement,
Rockwell takes pride in its idea management program. Designed to encourage
employees to make suggestions, this effort has been in place for three-years; today,
the company implements and manages several change requests per employee on an annual
Becton Dickenson, a leading provider of medical devices, is in the process of implementing
a similar program based on the concepts set forth in Alan G. Robinson and Dean M.
Schroeder's Ideas Are Free; its goal is to solicit, rationalize, and implement between 12
and 24 recommendations per employee its first year.
The third most important strategic action cited by best-in-class companies is improving
manufacturing and supply chain flexibility (38%). Recognizing that supply chain integration
would not be possible using spreadsheets alone, best in class Mahindra & Mahindra
tackled the challenge of supply chain integration through the development of a common
source of supply chain information, the automation of key processes, and the integration
of systems modules. As M&M faced new foreign competitors and increasing supply
chain complexity, the company decided to embark on a major project to implement
SAP's APO solution in India and in facilities around the globe.
The selected SAP implementation partner, Bristlecone, Inc., charted out the APO implementation
plan. However, to maximize value addition from APO, it was necessary to first
reengineer the existing supply chain processes
from "push" to "pull", including the
introduction of a pull-based replenishment
from manufacturing to distributors, and the
coordination of local deliveries with 3PL
(3rd Party Logistics Providers) partners.
Next, the project team identified supply
chain network partners, material flows, and
business rules; and then captured the data
into its Indian domestic supply chain using
APO modeling capabilities.
As APO became operational, it
generated supply chain visibility into
the entire Indian supply chain network,
including customer and distributor
As APO became operational, it generated supply chain visibility into the entire Indian
supply chain network, including customer and distributor shipments. The implementation
of the Supply Network Planner module of APO also provided a quick and easy way to
handle its complex supply chain by ensuring constraint-based cost optimal planning
across its plants. It also facilitated in quick re-planning across plants based on market
demand changes and re-scheduling material plans accordingly.
Mastering Lean Basics
Beyond looking to enhance operational goals, best-in-class companies are committed to
mastering basic Lean methodologies. During this study, we discovered a large gap between
the way best-in-class companies and their poorer performing competitors tackle
Lean as shown in Table 1.
Table 1: Best-in-Class Committed to Mastering Basic Methodology
|Significant Level of Involvement
||Best in Class
|Education: Lean Methodology
|Identification of improvement opportunities
|Lines/Work Cell Manufacturing
|5S (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain)
|Value Stream Mapping
|Kaizen (continuous improvement teams)
Source: AberdeenGroup, March 2006
Education Lean Methodology
Most companies embarking on Lean have committed to some degree of formalized education.
Smaller organizations hire external trainers and consultants to host workshops,
others manage "train the trainer" programs to promulgate Lean concepts; and best-inclass
have more formal and often global programs.
Identification of Improvement Opportunities
Kaizen is the philosophy of continuously looking for improvement opportunities, and
efforts of IM&C companies should focus around continuous evaluation of visible processes,
including those surrounding product
flow, inventory reductions and quality.
Line/Work Cell Manufacturing
Cellular manufacturing typically comprises a
small group of operators performing all the
work necessary to make a part, component,
or assembly; the place where they work is
called a work cell. One company achieved
"tremendous savings" as a direct result of
establishing work cells throughout the shop
floor: tripling throughput within the machining
One IM&C company, still early on
its Lean journey, has already tripled
throughput as a result of creating
work cells within machining areas.
5S (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain)
5S is a Lean methodology for establishing and maintaining a productive work environment.
Several IM&C companies reported that having Lean consultants evaluate current
work processes has resulted in more organized and effective work areas.
A 5s team member at an access equipment manufacturing company explained that his
company began investigating Lean initiatives and external support at the suggestion of
several companies that had undergone the process. The company brought in external expertise
to begin pointing out areas of improvement on the shop floor, with consultants
monitoring day to day operations and making suggestions for streamlining certain areas.
This process was continued several times with different consulting groups over the years,
and the outsider perspective enabled a better picture as to how incremental changes could
yield substantive rewards. "Even though we are not yet 100% Lean, the benefits are apparent
already as people work collaboratively and more efficiently. As a result our output
has been increasing."
Kanban pull chains communicate pull signals up and out from the factory floor, across a
series of customer/supplier relationships. This survey confirmed that three times more
best-in-class companies are using Kanban systems than the industry average companies.
The discrete manufacturing of most IM&C companies lends itself well to Kanban techniques.
Value Stream Mapping (VSM)
Value Stream Mapping is a technique used to evaluate company operations, starting with
the customer and mapping processes back through internal operations and ultimately
through the supply chain. The ultimate goal is to identify value in the eye of the customer
and eliminate all non value-added activities.
How IM&C Companies Overcome Lean Obstacles
In order to break through adoption barriers, industrial machinery and components manufacturers
are more likely than their more mature industry counterparts to leverage external
consultants and even trainers to ramp up more quickly to keep pace. The pressure is
on for IM&C companies to move ahead or face being left behind.
As Figure 5 displays, IM&C companies are still working through the introductory phases
of Lean-trying to secure top management support, and relying heavily on Lean methodology
(like 5s and Value Stream mapping) to guide the gradual transition. Best in class
companies regardless of industry meanwhile have overcome barriers by taking a more
active and actionable avenue through measuring the impacts of Lean and quantifying
Lean opportunities. By identifying opportunities for proactive control throughout their
Lean journey, best in class companies prove that Lean must eventually become a process
that moves beyond the methodology. The value of Lean is in identifying areas requiring
attention, but the next step has to be evaluating metrics for success and diligently monitoring
performance. The evolution should be to move beyond the practice to the practical,
and the way to facilitate this approach for actionable control is through the backbone of
Figure 5: Overcoming Lean Obstacles
Source: AberdeenGroup, March 2006
Technology-Enabling Lean Processes
Although the Lean early adopters were not proponents of technology, circumstances have
changed. The majority of manufacturers rely on a combination of corporate ERP and
semi-automated Lean processes to support their business operating models. As these
companies achieve solid ROI with Lean
pilots and programs, operational knowledge
should be captured electronically so
that Lean processes can be (at least partially)
replicated and scaled (up or down)
into other factories and supply chain partners.
Many advances in technology including
Web-based solutions, improved analytical
tools, and access to real-time production
data, bear consideration and closer
examination by Lean manufacturers.
In fact, one IM&C company in particular
found the ability to coordinate manufacturing
cells with "computer systems and new,
innovative technology" was instrumental in
having processes "work hand in hand to improve productivity."
The ability to coordinate manufacturing
cells with "computer systems
and new innovative technology" was
identified by one IM&C company as
instrumental in having processes
"work hand in hand to improve productivity."
Lean: Achieving Expectations
A number of IM&C companies report that Lean has been successful and reliably met expectations.
But it is also interesting to note that for some companies Lean's capacity to
improve flexibility in manufacturing and across the supply chain was an unanticipated
success (Figure 6). As the Mahindra & Mahindra story uncovered, achieving this flexibility
is a critical step toward ensuring that customer service and performance objectives are
met. An additional 11% report that Lean is exceeding expectations relative to customer
service improvements, product quality improvements and cost reductions in manufacturing
and the supply chain.
Figure 6: Lean Successes
Driving Operational Performance with Metrics
Much of the success attributed to Lean is based on unrelenting focus on process standardization
and continually looking for ways to improve. This premise is based on the
ability to measure, set standards, and work toward improved performance. In the words
of one IM&C survey participant, "you have to come up with a metric and continue to
improve yourself. You have to have some basis to gauge (performance) upon and continue
to improve." While evaluating metrics for your organization, it's important to note
that there are multiple levels:
First, individual metrics capture task or activity performance. Examples include throughput
on a particular piece of equipment or SPC (statistical process control) results on a
particular test. Individual metrics are designed based on the objective of one or multiple
processes. Second, process metrics are designed to capture performance across a group of
activities. Examples include order-to-delivery time and product-to-volume time. Finally,
metric clusters aggregate the individual metric and metric sets to link with strategic objectives
such as quality, safety, and customer satisfaction.
During the course of this study, we asked study participants which metrics were most
important to achieving success. Close to 80% of best-in-class companies cited on-time
delivery among the top-three metrics, followed by 52% for inventory turns and 39% for
manufacturing cycle time (Figure 7). On-time delivery is considered a process metric
because it includes the time that it takes to accept and process a customer order, manage
through production, and shipping to the end customer. When an organization achieves its
order-to-delivery measures, generally this means that each participant who "added value"
met his or her individual metrics. And although order-to-delivery may not link directly to
a strategic objective, it is a strong contributor to customer satisfaction.
Figure 7: Metrics Tied to Success
In addition to finding a correlation between relative performance and what metrics were
used, we also found a correlation with how frequently results are measured (Figure 8).
Close to 30% of the best-in-class measure results daily, but only 3% of laggard companies
measure this frequently. It is also interesting to note that 45% of laggards are measuring
results on an ad hoc basis. The data also shows that some (11%) best-in-class companies
are beginning to incorporate the use of real-time technologies into their measurement
One company in particular, a small niche milling equipment manufacturer, has taken to
monitoring quality on a daily basis, and the small staff of 50 people ensures that all product
going out the door is thoroughly tested. But measuring success for the company extends beyond measuring the viability of its products. Tasks are divided by man hour, and
a weekly report is published with current progress (positive or negative) by employee,
sharing visibility with everyone in the company. By including these separate cluster metrics,
the company has been able to tie back value to Lean initiatives and continually keep
abreast of opportunities to improve.
Figure 8: Measurement Frequency
Source: AberdeenGroup, March 2006
Recommendations for Action
While the companies in this study achieved very measurable and accelerated results,
the progress to become Lean is a long-term commitment to continuous process improvements.
With this in mind, IM&C companies in either the evaluation or early
deployment phase of Lean can benefit from the following action items to pave a successful
path to Lean:
- Focus on customer-facing KPIs, such as on-time delivery. Take tips from current
best in class leaders and focus on meeting customer demands while continuing to
strive for operational excellence.
- Measure these KPIs often (ideally on a daily basis). IM&C companies should
"follow the leaders" and adopt the best in class mentality for maintaining strict
standards for success based on frequent measurement of critical objectives.
- Evaluate technology capabilities to enhance visibility and improve supply chain
flexibility. As customers drive IM&C companies to not only adopt Lean but
quickly ramp up to meet expectations for shorter order cycle time and on-time
delivery, IM&C companies will need to scale Lean processes throughout the
supply chain to enhance flexibility. To become truly agile and responsive, IM&C
companies will need to think about technology infrastructures that will unite the
plant with the supply chain at large to facilitate the design and implementation of
customer-focused business processes.
- Evolve to a "to order" environment, "pulling" demand directly from customers.
Move beyond the traditional make to forecast methods that only encourage inventory
congestion and other perpetual backlogs, to processes that are responsive
to customer requests.
- Leverage external consultants to pioneer Lean development. Highlighted as a
critical component of successful Lean deployment by IM&C companies and the
best in class alike, look to external support to ease the Lean transition and get an
outsider's objective perspective on how your company could improve.
Conduct Kaizen Blitz workshops to monitor continuous improvement efforts
Kaizen workshops are cross-functional in nature, focused on continuous improvement,
and conducted over one to five days. The goal of the workshop is to
rapidly refine solutions to highest priority issues; workshops can be focused on
either value stream improvements or on the elimination of waste. Because this is
a well documented and structured process, consider training an internal leader or
hiring an external consultant. Organize and prioritize Kaizen improvement efforts
along the value stream to ensure that focused improvement efforts deliver
value to the highest impact business areas. IM&C companies are 25% more
likely to already be highly involved with Kaizen (55% vs 30% for all other industries).
They should continue to leverage external resources i.e. external trainers
or consultants to monitor continuous improvement.
- Map the value stream from customer to suppliers
Identify the specific resources and actions required to deliver a specific product
to a specific customer. Create a future state of the value stream map. Identify and
categorize waste in the current state, and eliminate it.
Implement basic Lean production techniques
Evaluate current bills of material and bills of process. Consider "postponing" final
finishing or assembly instructions until the customer order comes in, then establish
a workcell team to perform these specific tasks.
Manufacturing Research Analyst,
As an analyst and editor for the Manufacturing Services research area at AberdeenGroup,
Maura Buxton is involved in providing analytical insights to better serve enterprises.
Through evaluating the best models in the industry, Maura offers actionable methods to
enhance business processes and integrate leading advancements into supply chain networks.
Before joining AberdeenGroup, Maura was involved in analysis at Pert Survey Research
in Bloomfield, Connecticut, interpreting quantitative results on leading brands in the alcohol
beverage industry. Her reports centered on industry insights and opportunities,
brand awareness relative to competitors', and strategic initiatives that allowed companies
to grow their consumer bases. Maura received her bachelor's degree in advertising, marketing,
and public relations at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts.
Vice President and Service Director
Cindy Jutras is vice president of manufacturing research and service director for AberdeenGroup.
In this role Cindy oversees all research programs, products and services, related
to Manufacturing and ERP. Prior to joining AberdeenGroup, Cindy was a Senior
Director at SSA Global and Vice President of Product Strategy for interBiz, a division of
Computer Associates. She has also led manufacturing consulting groups and held a variety
of positions in software design and development, project and general management
for manufacturing, consulting and software companies. Cindy is the author of the original
supply chain concept, Virtually Vertical Manufacturing, as well as the book ERP Optimization.
Uring the month of January 2006, AberdeenGroup with Manufacturing Business Technology
and the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) examined Lean manufacturing
philosophies, techniques, and technologies of 292 enterprises in aerospace and
defense (A&D), automotive, high-tech, industrial products, and other industries.
Responding supply chain, logistics, and operations executives completed an online survey
that included questions designed to determine the following:
- What is driving manufacturers today to adopt Lean? What are their business
needs and expectations?
- How are best-in-class implementing Lean? What are their critical success factors
and how are these being measured?
- What tools, techniques, and technology solutions are leaders using to deploy and
scale their Lean operations?
Aberdeen supplemented this online survey effort with telephone interviews with select
survey respondents, gathering additional information on Lean strategies, experiences, and
The study aimed to identify emerging best practices for Lean and provide a framework
by which readers could assess their Lean capabilities.
Responding enterprises included the following:
- Job title/function: The research sample included respondents from the following
functional areas: manufacturing (42%); business process management (10%), logistics/
supply chain (9%), IT (8%), and others. Job titles included managers
(37%), directors (18%), C-level or senior managers (13%), and others.
- Industry: The research sample included respondents predominantly from manufacturing
industries: Industrial machinery manufacturers (16%) of the sample,
automotive (10%) and finally aerospace and defense manufacturers, accounting
for 10% of the sample. Other sectors responding included medical equipment,
construction/engineering, and retail and distribution.
- Geography: Nearly all study respondents were from North America, including
92% from the U.S. alone. Remaining respondents were from the United Kingdom
and the Asia-Pacific region.
- Company size: About 27% of respondents were from large enterprises (annual
revenues above US$1 billion); 35% were from mid-sized enterprises (annual
revenues between $50 million and $1 billion); and 37% of respondents were
from small businesses (annual revenues of $50 million or less).
Related Aberdeen Research & Tools
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Table of Contents
- Offered by
- Executive Summary
- Recommendations for Action
- Chapter One: Issue at Hand
- Barriers to Adoption
- Chapter Two: Strategic Actions of the Best in Class
- Mastering Lean Basics
- Education Lean Methodology
- Identification of Improvement Opportunities
- Line/Work Cell Manufacturing
- 5S (Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain)
- Value Stream Mapping (VSM)
- How IM&C Companies Overcome Lean Obstacles
- Technology-Enabling Lean Processes
- Chapter Three: Lean: Achieving Expectations
- Driving Operational Performance with Metrics
- Chapter Three: Recommendations for Action
- Author Profiles
- Appendix A: Research Methodology
- Appendix B: Related Aberdeen Research & Tools
- About AberdeenGroup
- Figure 1: Metrics Tied to Success
- Figure 2: Top Drivers of Lean
- Figure 3: Lean Adoption Challenges
- Figure 4: Best-in-Class Strategic Actions
- Figure 5: Overcoming Lean Obstacles
- Figure 6: Lean Successes
- Figure 7: Metrics Tied to Success
- Figure 8: Measurement Frequency
- Table 1: Best-in-Class Committed to Mastering Basic Methodology
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