You may have done the research on lean leadership and have become intrigued with the idea.
But doing your homework on the basics and knowing the right time to invest in lean transformation are two totally different things. Every company will reach the decision to go lean in different ways, but there are some common indicators that will help you determine if there are improvement opportunities worth pursuing. Skilled lean consultants like those at Incito can also help you bridge the gap.
The first step is to take a look at what you’re currently measuring. Ask yourself these questions:
- Are you simply measuring profit?
- Are you measuring value created by every single person in your organization?
- Are you measuring the value of every labor hour worked to come up with the revenue number?
- Are you tracking performance indicators, and if so, are you sharing them throughout the company?
- Are those indicators understandable only by you or is everyone at every level in the organization able to translate them into meaningful processes?
If your staff is not able to translate that data into something meaningful, they won’t be able to perform their own self-measuring to determine if their improvements have made a positive impact on the outcome. Profit and other global measurements don’t really mean anything at the individual levels, i.e., customer service, accounting, or packing processes, unless you can successfully quantify your measurements at the user level.
Getting Everyone on Board
We’ll answer our own initial question with even more questions. IndustryWeek suggests asking yourself:
- Does your company leadership team embrace and understand their role? Are they even willing to learn what lean is all about?
- Does your company utilize multilevel, cross-functional teams to get things done?
- Do you have a strong grasp of the basic problem-solving tools throughout your company, fueling root-cause corrective actions?
- Do you have accurate data systems (reproducibility, gauge repeatability, etc.) that are easily accessible to those workers who are closest to the process? If so, does that data drive your improvement actions?
- Do employees have the power to shut a process down if an out-of-control condition takes place? If so, are resources immediately available to help those employees identify and implement corrective actions to ensure the process gets back up to speed?
- Do you have the financial commitment necessary to bring lean to fruition, calculate the financial impact of those improvements, and reshape the accounting systems so they more accurately reflect realistic goals?
If you can’t say yes to the above, you have some work to do before implementing any type of lean transformation. This doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. In fact, with the right lean consulting team behind you, a lean transformation may very well be in your future.
A New Way of Thinking
Depending on how things are currently being handled, some parts of your company will likely have a very large transformation ahead of them. In many cases, this will involve a whole new way of thinking that may be foreign to some people in your organization, particularly those who have been the industry for a while, are happy with the way things have been going and are most comfortable using older methods to achieve goals.
This is why you have to introduce the new ideas as gently as you can, paying attention to negative responses and considering all criticisms. You will have to likely defend the benefits of lean to many people in your organization, but they will soon see that this method has produced excellent results in many industries over the years.
If you have a large company, or if you’re sensing resistance in attempts to implement the lean strategy, it may be best to implement it area by area. Introduce the new methodologies to separate parts of the organization one by one so you can not only control the process better, but allow other parts of the company to see the results firsthand.
Hold informational sessions and workshops where everyone can be informed and feel heard. It may take some time to integrate lean into your organization, especially if you already have deep roots in other problem solving methods. But once you have gotten over that initial barrier of communication and can reach everyone on an equal level, the transition should be a seamless one.
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