In the 1950’s, Taiichi Ohno, the production manager of Toyota, faced a difficult challenge. Unlike others in the automobile manufacturing industry at the time, he was forced to build a large variety of vehicles with very little inventory. Ohno succeeded by developing new techniques to restructure workflow and involve suppliers in the process of design and manufacture. Ohno continued to improve through the development and application of other techniques. In the late 1980’s, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology undertook a major study of automobile manufacturing around the world. Through this study, they discovered that the companies which had followed Ohno’s techniques achieved double the productivity with twenty five percent less defects than their nearest competitors. The term “Lean” was coined to describe this new breed of world-class companies – simply put, they achieve more with less.

In the late 1980’s, John de Wardt was given responsibility for developing new contractual relationships with suppliers for a major segment of Shell’s Exploration and Production business as part of a team targeting significant improvements in financial performance. These improvements included redefining the scope of services, roles and responsibilities of suppliers and payment mechanisms. In the early 1990’s, he embarked on a study of Lean Manufacturing with the intent to bring its benefits to the upstream oil and gas industry. In 1994, John set up his own consulting business to achieve his goal. His first step was to develop a proprietary program for reorganizing the work to be performed in projects. The initial success on a BP project in the North Sea lead to further applications in North America, Europe and Asia. Through application and further study, John has developed his practice to ensure its success across many types of projects and organizations.

The Lean Management Techniques of de Wardt and Company are embodied in 9 levers, each of which is adjusted to meet the specific needs of each client. These levers are leadership, objective focus / stretch, organization architecture, relationships, culture / behavior, information flow, planning / engineering, construction / operations, equipment management. Each of these keys has specific tools and techniques, which are applied as needed to achieve exceptional performance.


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