The Role Of Your Senior Leadership Team In Ensuring Lean Delivers Results

The Role of Your Senior Leadership Team Explained

Getting out the workplace to give feedback and demonstrate consistent support for Lean is a key role for Senior Leaders

Embracing Lean thinking and making it part of your corporate DNA is a difficult challenge. Your Senior Leadership Team is key to achieving this.

Start by apply Lean thinking to achieve immediate strategic goals. Demonstrate the corporate commitment with consistent communications. Realistic expectations are:

  • The Senior Leadership Team have completed Lean training and are aligned on the purpose and objectives of any Lean deployment.
  • Lean projects will be linked directly to and support your strategy
  • All employees will experience Lean over the next 2 years
  • Immediate goals may be to apply Lean to the key end to end process.
  • Applying Lean thinking to achieve the long term vision.

TXM Lean Mintue: Effective Senior Leadership Sponsorship of a Lean Transformation

Many TXM clients have long term goals when embracing Lean thinking. Therefore while you may need to deliver results in the first year to justify your improvement program, always think about the culture and organization that you are trying to build over the longer term of five to ten years.

Senior Leadership Team members set the culture. How the mechanism for the new culture works is:

  1. The leaders style defines the priorities for the value set.
  2. The value set is mirrored through middle managers to Team Leaders and directly by all people in contact with Senior Leadership Team members.
  3. The mirroring of the new style becomes the new behavior
  4. Consistent behaviors become the new culture


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TXM Lean Minute: The Senior Leaders Role In Lean

Typical behavior changes by SLT members

Drive problem solving down to the lowest level, while confident the process is robust

Do: Use structured problem solving at the lowest level for the most important problems;
Do Not: Jump into problem solving

Schedule time to attend daily quick meetings (typically stand up) meetings

Do: Praise communication of problems
(structured forums are good)
Do Not: Balance the conflict felt by middle managers
of monthly results and change.

Listen & Communicate

Do: Take time to understand the dilemma of each team even though you might have heard it all before.
Act – fix key problems with tangible actions; Create visible change. Set realistic expectation – emphasize the short term fix required until the long term fix. Be very detailed about the process to fix the long term problems.
Do Not: Brush off problems;

Selecting the right tools is important, how they implemented sets the culture – 80% of the change program is about leadership, 20% about tools. Engaging many people quickly is a key consideration. End to end engagement is the best option. The TXM approach to daily problem solving, Solving Problems Every Day, applies in every work situation and can engage everyone.

Lean Tools at Your Disposal

Practical 5S is also an effective medium to engage people. By involving them in designing and improving their own workplace through 5S you open up a discussion about the way work is done and every day waste in the workplace.

TXM Lean Methodology: Practical 5S

Frequent affirmation of all performance distinguishes Lean leadership from managing by exceptions. Many Managers miss the simple yet rewarding opportunity to spend 5 seconds a day to confirm a good result. We aim to build this regular feedback in to the daily routines of middle managers and team leaders so it soon becomes habit and part of the culture.

The use of an effective policy deployment process is a way in which the senior leadership team can ensure the success of Lean deployment, by ensuring it remains aligned to strategic goals at every level of the organization. Remember that policy deployment should be a two way process with mechanisms for feedback from the bottom down as well as communicating a consistent, clear and relevant message from the top down. Sharing the goal and asking the individual or team to create the plan is an engaging method of setting annual goals.

At TXM we try and engage the whole Senior Leadership Team in the Lean transformation process from the start. It is then up to the individual members of the SLT to stay engaged and to demonstrate consistent Lean leadership behaviors in order to ensure the success and sustainability of your Lean transformation.

TXM Lean Article: The Value of a Senior Leadership Workshop


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Timothy McLean

Author: Timothy McLean

Timothy McLean is the Managing Director of TXM Lean Solutions and is an author of Lean books.