I’ve found this interesting article in the PANTA REI blog: a blog that I read and appreciate.

It talks about how the term flexibility is often misused and sometimes confused with the term Lean.

Flexibility is the opposite of stiffness. Flexibility is the ability to expand or contract in response to pressure. Flexibility is the ability to adapt to new, different or changing requirements. Flexibility is measure of the ability of a company to respond to changes in demand.

Flexibility is one of those metrics that gets added on but rarely defined in concrete terms by manufacturing executives, as in “We need to focus on quality, cost, speed, and flexibility.”

And here are the conclusions:

What is flexibility for Lean manufacturing? True flexibility should be a measure not of a machining system or an assembly department but of an entire value stream from the end customer through the supply chain and back to the end customer (from request to fulfillment) and this system’s (value stream’s) ability to deliver Every Product Every X with X being months, weeks, days, hours, etc. Planning and building capacity based on forecasts results in false economy of scale thinking, which reinforces customer behavior that volume is cheaper and lead-times are long. Being able to make only what the customer is truly buying right now is a Lean measure of flexibility.

It sounds good: doesn’t it?

Give it a try to the whole article.