The first and uppermost success factor is management engagement. We’re talking about executive management actively participating in the lean change process, investing in training and coaching their employees. It must not be considered a project or “just an initiative”, it’s a permanent change in the way of working that requires daily attention.
5x Why is a work method to help understand the root cause of problems. In the process, it’s imperative that the leadership is able to show respect for the people and not playing the blame-game. The focus shall be to create a learning organization where you always strive to achieve a higher level of learning when problems occur.
Understanding Value Stream
All employees must understand how the business creates value for their customers. This is the foundation of lean thinking and essential to enable frontline workers to become problem solvers.
Crate a value stream map. It’s helpful to visualize and benchmark your processes in order to identify the real value creating activities and subsequently the bottlenecks and wastes.
Use strategy deployment (Hoshin Kanri) to operationalize your strategies. Cascade and break down objectives to individual team goals and respective KPIs. This enables the company to deploy the strategy across the whole organizations and provide relevant and tangible goals for each team.
When the strategies and goals are defined, it enables teams to prioritize and implement improvements more accurately when they are related to strategic objectives.
Perform Gemba walks. This is a manager engagement activity where they take a round in the production area or where the value creating activities happen. The intension is to see with their own eyes, talk to the frontline workers to identify, understand and learn about challenges and improvement potentials. Observations shall be recorded and followed up and will act as a trust-building activity between the frontline workers and management.
Add transparency with visualization. Visualize goals, performance, issues, activities and establish a daily management system. As mentioned, lean requires daily attention, so having a daily visual management system will help on multiple dimensions. The teams can work together in short interval meetings to discuss problems and enable problem solving quickly. What is A3 problem solving?
Capture improvement ideas and collectively make priorities within the teams. The focus is on customer value and consensus builds trust in the processes. All ideas shall be considered and feedback given to the creator. Having a system with transparency on the team level will more or less automate this and reduce the leaders workload.
Leader Standard Work
Establish Leader’s Standard Work. This is a great tool to help leaders break the cycle of working ad-hoc, and focus on activities that your organization depend on.