Escaping Your Comfort Zone with Lean Manufacturing, Matthew Rassi-EP 216

May 6, 2024 - 1:01pm -- Selcuk Gulboy
Matthew Rassi, Lean Manufacturing Consultant and founder of Twenty Helping Hands.

Working in the machining industry I hear the term “lean manufacturing” mentioned a lot. But what does the word “lean” really mean in this context? And how do you implement it in your company? 

To help me clarify these questions, I interviewed Matthew Rassi, founder of Twenty Helping Hands. He’s a lean manufacturing consultant who has been working in the manufacturing industry for over two decades.

Matthew says that the first step for a company to adopt lean manufacturing is to bring all of its people together to exchange ideas, from the CEO to the person sweeping floors. 

In his experience, the people on the shop floor often have valuable insight for solving problems that upper management hasn’t even considered. The collaboration process also motivates employees because they feel heard.

Matthew and I talked about supply chains and limiting waste, but the most important concept I learned in our conversation was the lean principle of running directly at problems instead of dodging them. How on earth do you do that? It helps to have someone like Matthew to guide you on that path.

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Interview Highlights

Noah Graff: How do you define lean manufacturing?

Matthew Rassi: It’s a framework and a structure that helps you find the waste (in an organization) and remove it.

But it’s not just tools and it’s not just a framework. It’s also the mindset, the way that we think about things, concepts such as running towards problems instead of hiding them or hoping nobody finds them.

Actually admitting to each other, I made a mistake. I want you all to know about it, so you don’t make the same mistake. It’s a very tough culture to change.

Noah: Do you think humans are naturally inclined to try to avoid problems rather than to solve them proactively?

Matthew: I would agree with that. We don’t like pain. And we’re very proud individuals. It takes a humility. It takes a recognition that there’s something that’s bigger than me here. As you step into that role, it’s very freeing. You no longer have to be perfect.

Noah: What makes manufacturing companies reach out to you for your services?

Matthew: Their manufacturing is faltering. They have very long lead times. Their costs are going up. They’re fearful that they’re going to continue losing people or they cannot get enough people. 

My moniker is accelerating your output without hiring more people, without buying new machines. And that acceleration can be both in increased output or it can be in reduced lead time. And both of those can lead to increased sales.

Noah: What’s the first step when you’re brought in to consult companies?

Matthew: I come in and do a discovery visit. I need to spend three to four hours with the owner and with those on the floor walking through their process to understand what they are doing.

We’ll look at areas that we think are going to need improvement. And, what we want to do is start getting engagement from employees. The more information you share with your team, the better decisions you are going to make. 

Noah: What type of information do you share with your team?

Matthew: For example, “Our revenues are about here. Our profit level is about here.

We’ve been continually declining or we’re growing. Our lead time is too long or not long enough. These are our biggest customers. These are our three biggest quality issues.

Whatever the situation is, they need to know where you’re at in the market.

Noah: Do you encourage employees to share ideas?

Matthew: We want to start sharing. Sharing information,  opportunities, responsibilities, ideas. Ideas is a big one. You need an influx of ideas. Not every idea is a great idea, but every idea is good and should be recorded, and ideas build on each other. 

You start getting engagement. And your people are not just going to go down the street for a dollar an hour or more. They will feel listened to. They’re seeing improvements. This is how we start to make progress.

Noah: It must be hard to get everyone on board with the new way of running things.

Matthew: Typically in an organization, you’ll have about 25% of folks who will be on board and excited because finally there’s change and they’ve been begging for it.

And then about half the folks will kind of go along either way. If it works out, great. If it doesn’t, they weren’t too committed. 

And then you have the bottom 25% who are just resistant to change no matter what. As long as they are not poisoning the rest, those people can be brought along as well. But if they start poisoning, then you have to make changes. (Think of) people as the sensors of an organization’s (progress).

For more information about Matthew Rassi’s services and a free Starter Handbook about Lean manufacturing, go to his website,

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