Lower for Longer: Lean Forever

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Lean Thinking is a generic version of the Toyota Production System, which was cobbled together just after World War II. The system was how a resource-poor Toyota, staggering with broken processes and a low-skilled workforce, scrabbled through the harsh post-war economy to become one of the most successful and highly respected enterprises of the 20th century. The 1996 book, Lean Thinking, introduced lean to mainstream business. Since then, lean has propelled operational excellence in construction, software development, healthcare, financial services, state government, and more.

Lean Thinking is a philosophy that engages everyone in systematically solving problems. However, like “eat right, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep,” lean is a simple concept difficult to live daily. Companies typically struggle through distinct levels of understanding and application of lean. Beginners dabble with lean tools in superficial ways that yield slim results. More developed users imbed lean more broadly across value streams and deeper into business systems to get greater returns. Advanced lean thinkers go much further and get dramatic results by building lean into their culture. Like safety, lean for them is not another project to be implemented; lean thinking is part of how they do everything.

Oil and gas companies have begun to use lean tools in isolated processes aiming to increase business efficiency. There have been measurable benefits in improved drilling times and reducing the cost of bringing a well into production. But what are the benefits beyond drilling and completions, and applying lean across the extended value stream?

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Lower for Longer: Lean Forever

Tom Knode, Contek Solutions, and Jeff Fuchs, Maryland World Class Consortia

01 March 2017

Volume: 69 | Issue: 3