Eric Ries began by blogging about start-ups but has become a leading consultant in Lean processes. In 2011 he published The Lean Startup, which has now sold over one million copies. He presses the importance of limiting waste so that the best product can reach the consumer as quickly as possible. His success with start-ups has garnered the attention of larger companies like GE that want to use his techniques to drive innovation on a very large scale. One of the first to hire him was GE. GE has adopted his practices as well as some traditional Lean initiatives in order to better satisfy their customers and eliminate some of the waste that such a large conglomerate generates.
One specific area that GE is implementing their Lean techniques is in their appliance division where they hope to cut lead times in order to better meet customer orders as they come in. They also hope to apply their Lean techniques beyond manufacturing and incorporate them into all aspects of the business. From design to marketing they GE wants to make products with the end user in mind and have all units applying the same strategies to their work.
This instance of using Lean practices throughout the firm can be extremely useful as we continue into a more automated age with a greater emphasis on the service industry in the economy. There will always be new ways to eliminate waste and the Lean principle that operations must be stopped and fixed when something is wrong is very important. One of Eric Ries’s main tenants is that when failure is encountered the company must be able to pivot and adjust. By incorporating this into all aspects of a firm it can become very flexible and more capable of taking on new challenges. GE also shows that no matter how large the company is there will always to innovate and advance. Ries also describes how despite the change in CEO at GE he believes that they will continue to use his practices and hopefully alleviate some of the issues that are plaguing GE.