Getting Lean to Stick – The Lean Champion

Our team of TXM consultants work across many industries and once the tools are mastered and a few value stream have been tidied up, getting lean to stick is the next big hurdle. Over the next few weeks we will look at some of the strategies that we use to help you sustain your Lean implementation.

Scenario 1

You are the lone advocate and your company is just getting started in lean.

As Art Byrne noted in his article “How do I get Senior Leadership on Board?”, getting started as a lone advocate isn’t the easiest way to start but it is still possible: choose one small area or team and start by doing a quick clean up, removing obvious waste and making the workflow visible. Once an area has started, it is easier to use this as a focus area to highlight improvements. Start team meetings and put key metrics and work standards on display.

This article by Michelle Brown highlights the importance of a lean champion

Scenario 2

You have a broad spread of lean understanding across the company but little cultural change or ownership.

Find 2 or 3 people with passion and work with them on small projects, mentoring and teaching the tools as the need arises. As outlined in the The Lean Manager, no one person, wherever they are in the company hierachry, can implement Lean on their own – you need to spread out the projects to develop an understanding of how both the company works and the lean tools can be used to add continuous improvement into everyday life at work


Scenario 3

Your Senior Leadership team is onboard but middle management are not “getting it”.

As outlined by Tracey Richardson in “Leading and Learning the Toyota Way” about the Toyota leadership model, continuous improvement needs to be built into everyone’s every day tasks. Review the company values and align these with the metrics at middle management level. If Cost and Delivery metrics are always put above quality and continuous improvement, then cost and delivery will always be allocated more time and resources. Find the right balance to allow each level to focus on their key metrics.

How would your company look if middle management focussed on:

  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Continuous improvement
  • Team leader performance

And the team leaders focussed on:

  • Safety
  • Quality
  • Delivery
  • Costs they can control (labour hours, consumables used etc)

So which scenario best suits your current situation? How can you find a few key people, whether through passion or position, to mentor and assist on helping them solve their own problems, using the Lean tools as needed.

And remember, this is all about creating sustainable businesses which can grow and bring in more work with the same number of people – it’s NOT about “doing Lean” or “implementing 5S”, as these are simply tools to support the greater “True North” company objectives. Take care when implementing tools – you don’t want to be the hammer running around looking for a nail.


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Michelle Brown

Author: Michelle Brown

Michelle Brown is a Senior Lean Consultant at TXM Lean Solutions.