Much of what is written about lean manufacturing simply isn't applicable to small manufacturers, most of whom make their money by meeting specific service specifications for specific customers.

When lean literature says, "Only make what the customer wants when the customer wants it," small manufacturers say, "That's the central facet of our business. You mean there are companies who make things nobody wants?"

When lean literature talks about training everyone in lean methods and concepts, small manufacturers say, "Everybody around here is already wearing three hats. Who has the time to conduct or attend all this training?"

And when the lean literature talks about . . . well, being lean, small manufacturers say, "We're already lean. Remember that part about everyone already wearing three hats? Maybe big companies have extra people around but we don't."