Organization leaders in many industries are looking to adopt Lean Thinking philosophies as a means to achieve operational excellence, and are unclear on how to achieve this.
Although the concept of Lean seems simple, its implementation can be daunting. It involves adopting a set of principles to enable the elimination of waste from any process within the organization, while also driving the right behaviors from team members. This is an ambitious goal, and a proven way to achieve results.
A Lean enterprise encourages high levels of team member engagement and cooperation across the value stream, provides a collaborative learning environment, seeks perfection in its processes, includes strong support from its leaders and ultimately achieves high levels of customer satisfaction (internal and external).
As a prerequisite to this effort, senior leaders must commit to learning and applying the principles of Lean themselves to drive the right behaviors from team members. Not doing so may cause people to view Lean as a “flavor of the month” initiative requiring them to do more work on top of their daily job responsibilities.
Building The Roadmap
The path to achieve a Lean enterprise involves four stages:
Stage 1. Assess Your Environment
Where is your organization today?
Before management can determine where they want to be, they need to understand the state of their current environment. The way to obtain this is by looking for symptoms within the existing environment that are indicative of waste.
Senior leaders serious about building a lean organization must practice the philosophies of lean themselves.
North Highland has grouped these symptoms into 6 areas. This assessment would ask respondents to indicate how frequently the organization exhibits these symptoms on a scale of 1 to 10. The results are tabulated by symptom, symptom area and overall Lean Thinking score. Figure 2 below outlines the six symptom areas and lists examples of symptoms that respondents would score against for the Leadership area
The completed assessment will establish a baseline on the current state of the organization. In addition to generating awareness and acceptance amongst senior leaders, it will also build the case to launch the program to create a Lean Enterprise.
Stage 2. Identify Your Destination
Where does your organization want to be?
This stage requires following a structured approach to develop a strategy and have a clear understanding of where the senior leaders would like the organization to be as a desired end state. This clarity will set the parameters within which team members must perform. Figure 3 lists key questions that senior leaders should answer to build their strategy for a Lean Enterprise.
Stage 3. Enable Your Organization
What does everyone need to know and do to reach the desired future state?
Perform the following to ensure the successful rollout and adoption of the Lean program.
- Cascade the Strategy: The goals, objectives and metrics created as part of the strategy must be transparent and cascade down to the departmental, team and individual levels of the organization. This will ensure that at all levels of the organization, people understand how their efforts align with materializing the organization's desired future state. Hoshin Kanri is a powerful strategic planning tool that strives to get every team member moving in the same direction at the same time. It achieves this by aligning the goals of the company (Strategy) with the plans of middle management (Tactics) and the work performed by all team members (Operations).
- Integrate Change Management: Although listed here as a separate event, Change Management is to be performed throughout the course of this initiative through all stages (1 – 4). Key activities, such as stakeholder analysis, impact assessments, executive sponsorship, communication, and training will ensure the successful rollout and adoption of Lean principles. A training program on Lean tools will allow people to build on their skills. Figure 4 outlines a high level approach towards managing people-centered change.
- Perform a Pilot: Choose an area of the business to pilot the Lean program. Use this as an opportunity to understand what Lean concepts and tools are crucial for the business and capture lessons learned from the pilot. Examples of Lean tools may include Value Stream Mapping, A3, Kaizen, Visual Management, Cause Analysis, Gemba, and Hoshin Kanri.
- Replicate Successes: Rollout the Lean program into other areas of the business. Prioritize the rollout by choosing areas of the business that stand to gain the most from adopting the Lean philosophies as part of their operations. Also consider the enterprise’s appetite for change as part of the rollout. Too many initiatives within a short period of time can be counterproductive, cause confusion and create resistance to change.
Stage 4. Measure and Adjust
How will the enterprise stay the course?
Continuously monitor the enterprise’s progress towards the practice of applying Lean philosophies, share the results at all levels, and formulate and execute plans for improvement. Consider the following mechanisms to capture information:
- Leverage the results of the metrics that were established as part of the Hoshin Kanri that was developed.
- Periodically (at least annually) perform the assessment that was performed in Stage 1 and compare the result with the prior assessment
- Senior Leaders, department heads and team leads should consider utilizing the following Lean techniques on a regular basis:
- Performing walks (Gemba) within their business to understand the value streams and start the conversations for working through identified problems.
- Generate transparency using Visual Management techniques (For example: Dashboards and A3s) for team members to see progress towards meeting the goals and objectives of their group.
- Embrace a mindset of continuous improvement and use techniques such as Plan-Do-Check-Adjust (PDCA) to improve the products and services offered by the various groups throughout the enterprise.
How can North Highland help? Assess your environment using your maturity model Help build and cascade your lean strategy Provide change management expertise Train your leaders to think lean Select the right metrics to measure progress
For more information please contact:Steve Gress