The case concerns food manufacturer Nibbly Bits, which supplies a retailer (Woolworths) with rusks and a variety of other baked goods. Despite receiving good orders at fair prices, the company has battled to turn a profit. In addition, a series of worker-led strikes have plagued the company, which has led to an uncertain future. The operations department, headed by the main protagonist, Stefan Drees, endeavours to solve the issues through implementing Lean principles in the factory despite a lack of support from upper management. Several initiatives are implemented with varying degrees of success.
There are two main themes that run throughout the case. Firstly, there is a strong emphasis on the company’s employees and how Lean management practices can assist in improving a poor work culture. Fostering an inclusive culture helps to improve productivity and employee happiness. The second theme relates to process improvement. The production processes are described along with interventions that the operations manager uses to make changes in line with a Lean approach to problem-solving.