Halil Akgül, Core Competencies Coordinator at Coşkunöz Group of Companies, discusses the implementation of lean across a number of different business platforms.

Coşkunöz Holding is a privately held industrial group with 60 years of history. The group consists of 11 companies active in different business sectors, a research centre and a training centre managed by the Coşkunöz Education Foundation. The main focus area of the business is automotive parts and components for OEMs.

Our customers always want more for less. They expect better quality and service, in the face of more risk and complexity. However, they have less money, resource and time than before. In short, they want to work with highly competitive companies. The only way to satisfy them is to work with and implement lean principles at every level of the organisation.

In the past, Coşkunöz Holding companies tried several ways to be more productive; however, KPIs like OEE, internal scraps, delivery performance and work accidents only brought limited results.


At the beginning, we were merely using the tools, but essentially all we did was scraping the surface. We gained a few results quickly, but they could not be sustained. In 2005, management decided to  implement the Lean Production System at Coşkunöz Metal Form, the leading company of the group, using the Toyota Production System as a reference and with the consulting services of the Lean Institute Turkey supporting us.

One year later management decided to deploy the Lean Production and Management System in all the companies of the group. The Group Lean Policy was developed targeting operational excellence.


  • Respect for the people is our top priority. This value covers all our staff, customers, suppliers and, more in general, the entire society. We must make every effort to establish mutual trust and understanding among our stakeholders;
  • Our founder’s motto “When I do something I should do it in the best possible way” is our guiding principle. We shall put our best effort on every activity and improve our processes constantly;
  • We must develop our employees’ ability to work in teams, enhance their individual performance and share improvement opportunities to develop multi-talented and multi-skilled people;
  • The management has a long-term vision to realise our dreams with courage and creativity, deploying the necessary strategies and targets at all levels of the organisation;
  • All our employees develop the habit of going to the gemba to be able to make informed decisions at all times, to reach goals quickly.

Lean principles and the results they can bring are difficult to sustain for everybody. Even Toyota has to work hard to spread and to maintain the Toyota Way outside of Japan.

Coşkunöz started the process by training people in the new (and lean) way of thinking and behaving. The establishment of a lean office at each company and the training of the team leaders were the starting points. Change is impossible without effective leaders at the top, middle and bottom of the organisation.

The Coşkunöz Education Foundation launched the Lean Leader Certification Program to train white and blue-collar team leaders and leaders from our suppliers. The programme consists of six modules, each module lasting six days. The company visits, simulations, workshops and some individual development programmes are organised between modules.

Each participant has to complete two projects, to be then presented
in an A3 format. Our chief trainer, Mr Yönel, is a sensei with 10 years’ experience at Toyota. We also encourage all our managers to share their experience in the course of the programme.

As core competencies coordinator, my function is to promote and
maintain the Coşkunöz Lean Production and Management System in all group companies. We named the initiative Lean Production System at the beginning because we wanted to keep Toyota and its TPS as a model.

Even six years in, however, Toyota is still our number one model, with our True North goals being: respect for people; improving quality; shortening lead times and cycle times; reducing cost in a systematic and continuous way as our group companies develop their own lean production and management systems unique to their processes and customer mix.


In our experience, the principles that form the basis for the success of a lean implementation are the following:

  • The group leaders and team leaders drive most improvements at the operations level. A leader must take an active role in achieving the desired performance in safety, quality, productivity and cost. The selection and accurate training of the leaders is very important as they play a crucial role in the implementation of a lean culture, in the interpretation of job responsibilities and in communicating company objectives to the team members;
  • The full participation of top management to the Monthly Company Cockpit and Kaizen Meetings is an indicator of the interest our leadership shows. The participation of managers in shop floor presentations greatly improves the level of motivation of the employees, as well;
  •  Lean assessments reveal a current picture of the company and guide management to the next steps in the implementation of the lean culture. Improving the assessment results is a performance indicator of the general manager. The best applications must be benchmarked and deployed horizontally in the group;
  • Number of suggestions put into action per person and the percentage of people who join the kaizen teams are also key indicators, showing the spreading of a lean culture. You know you are on the right track if you are over 10 applied suggestions per person per year and over 80% of your employees performed at least one kaizen event in their work area. This kind of performance can only be achieved with great team leaders;
  • Focusing on a defined product group will allow standardisation of the processes and will eliminate the complexity in the plant. After a value stream mapping exercise and the systematic and continuous elimination of waste, the value added portion of the process will increase. Only the necessary and justified investments will be done. As a result, competitiveness, customer satisfaction and profitability of the company will increase;
  • Visual management is an ideal tool to share information with all members of the organisation. Top management and lean offices make sure that information is up-to-date and actionable. Cleanliness, order and real-time information on the factory display board positively influence the working behaviour and the morale of the operators;
  • In most cases, layout changes are necessary for improved flow of the material and a better working environment. Allow your employees to make the change, don’t be afraid to try new things and make mistakes on the way. They are actually great lessons that you can use to improve and to avoid mistakes in similar circumstances. The only way to get better results is through trials, tests and learning by doing. When you go one step further, new opportunities will appear that nobody thought of before.

Each year, continuous improvement forces us to bring lean to a higher level. In a learning organisation, people’s abilities continuously move ahead, leading to sustained improvements in the operations department. According to lean assessment results, doing the right things right and continuously is more important that doing everything at once but not as well.

Lean is a long-term learning journey; it requires patience and discipline. We at Çoşkunöz are pleased to share the lessons learned in this journey with the global lean community, as we believe in power of learning from others.