Lean Strategy Requires Lean To Be the Foundational Core For Everything You Do

Posted by on Dec 25, 2012 in Lean, Lean Six Sigma | 0 comments

Many companies think they can implement lean by simply laying it on top of what they already do or delegating it to their operations folks.  This simply won’t work!  In order for you to be successful, lean must be a strategic approach that effects everything you do.

As an organization, you need to evaluate all your processes to determine the value-add you provide your customers.  Customers don’t care that it takes you an extra two days to make sure you get a proposal correct or to accept their loan application.  They don’t care if you need several approvals signatures or have to jump through hoops to meet some deadline.

In his recent book, “The Lean Turnaround,” Art Byrne states there are three management principles that serve as the foundation for your lean transformation:

  • Lean is the strategy.
  • Lead from the top.
  • Transform your people.

For lean to be your strategy, it must be the foundational core for everything you do.  You want to improve all your processes so that you improve the way value is added in your company.  Doing so will increase both your market share and your enterprise value.

Lead from the top means that you, the CEO, and your staff are actively engaged everyday.  You don’t delegate the transformation, you lead it!  That means you understand the various techniques and principles and you teach them to your organization.  You lead kaizen events and try to be involved in as many as you can.  You and your organization are more concerned with understanding processes, eliminating waste, and reducing variation than worrying about past results.  You need to challenge your employees by setting stretch goals and pushing them to implement lean faster.  You need to break down the walls of functional departments and instead organize your employees into value streams.

Transforming your people is probably the most important.  They are the only asset you have that appreciates in value.  All the ideas to improve will come from the people that do the work, not you.  They need you to show them that what they are doing is important, that lean is the strategy, and that everyone is expected to work smarter, not harder.  They need to be taught the techniques and tools and then be given the ability to implement them in their work areas.  They have to be given the freedom to fail, because every kaizen event won’t be a total success and they need to learn from their mistakes.

Implementing lean is not easy and requires a lot of work everyday.  It is not something you complete in one year, two years, five years…but is something that is on-going.  However, the hard work is well worth the effort and your customers and your organization will reap the benefits.

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