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Johanna Lassila: ”A Lean Manager is an organization trainer.”


- Lean offers many advantages for the company such as increasing work safety, enabling smoother operations, solving customer problems or making work easier, says Lean Manager Johanna Lassila.

Johanna Lassila started as a Lean Manager at Oriola in the beginning of December 2015. She has a M.Sc. (Tech) degree and solid experience in Lean methodology and tools. Additionally, she has experience in the development of processes and functions in the fields of both industry and services. Oriola’s field of operation, however, is new to Lassila.

- During the first months, I have become familiar with this industry and the company. I have met different people at Oriola to understand their way of thinking and working, and met different teams to find out the current situation of Lean at Oriola.  Also, working on an in-depth analysis with the planning and layout team as part of the new filling operation’s development project has helped me learn about Oriola’s warehouse and logistics processes, Lassila says.

Oriola has used Lean for a couple of years now, and teams have used Lean thinking when developing their operations.

Lassila says it is easy to pick low hanging fruit with Lean, but changing the big picture is a different story and a long process. She points out as an example that Toyota has used Lean since the 1930’s.

The customer in the center

Lassila says that Lean is above all a way of thinking. It is important to find methods that help to work more smoothly. In the center of Lean thinking is the customer and how to add value to the customer while developing the business to ensure smooth operations.

- Lean guides us to think about how we work together - how to find good working methods that help us do right things at the right time. It is important to remember that Lean tools are only tools that help us in development work. Suitable Lean tools should be selected in context of the situational need and company.

Lassila says that Lean offers many advantages for the company such as increasing work safety, enabling smoother operations, solving customer problems or making work easier.

- It is often about simple things that are easily forgotten during work. When the little things are fixed and process waste is eliminated, time is freed up for work that brings added value to the customer.

Systematic work and involving people

According to Lassila, a Lean Manager is above all a trainer who helps people to see things from a development point of view. In some projects, a Lean Manager may function as a project manager, and in others as a sparring partner or trainer.

- Additional to bigger projects, we are also concentrating on continuous development and the implementation of the small improvements. In these cases I will guide and train people to find development areas, set targets and find root causes of problems.

Lassila explains that one can use gamification to train personnel in Lean. During the spring, Oriola personnel has played a Lean game which teaches Lean thinking in a fun, new way.

- Lean demands a systematic way of working, involving people and change leadership. Different teams and people look at things from different perspectives, but for Lean to work, we have to all understand Lean thinking. 

 Text and image: Myra Magnusson