Manufacturing executives worry that in cutting the fat from their operations, they risk impairing their organizations’ ability to respond with agility to external shocks. But, the truth is that lean and agile can reinforce each other—as long as both of them are effectively organized, coordinated, and executed—which is to say, managed.

It’s essential to teach everyone in an organization to think lean, but lean thinking alone won’t deliver the cash needed to weather disruption.

Effective leadership means promoting the bottom-up generation of ideas for improvements while finding ways to translate incremental improvements into measurable savings.

When disruption looms, a fast-moving, rigorously structured approach to operational improvement doesn’t just deliver rapid, substantive cash impact. It also promotes long-term culture transformation.