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 SLT 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.
- Apply lean thinking to achieve the long term vision.
Learn About Effective Senior Leadership Sponsorship of a Lean Transformation in this Lean Minute Video
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.
SLT members set the culture. How the mechanism for the new culture works is:
- The leaders style defines the priorities for the value set.
- The value set is mirrored through middle managers to Team Leaders and directly by all people in contact with SLT members.
- The mirroring of the new style becomes the new behaviour
- Consistent behaviours become the new culture
Typical behaviour changes by SLT members embarking on a lean journey include
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.
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.
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 organisation. 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 behaviours in order to ensure the success and sustainability of your Lean transformation.