How Lean thinking can be applied to your leadership organisation
Dean Simpson, a Senior Consultant of Renault-Nissan Consulting, reflects on Lean thinking
Many business owners, entrepreneurs or managers understand that Lean thinking can help them to continually improve, become more efficient and reduce their overheads. However, what many people overlook is that Lean management can be instilled permanently within an organisation’s culture rather than being a one-off project.
With the following advice, you’ll be able to implement Lean management principles throughout your organisation. This means you and your team not only understand the benefits of being a Lean organisation, but that you can all continually look for ways to improve, reduce unnecessary waste, be more efficient and increase profits both now and in the future.
A cultural shift
Lean management is not a training programme you start, finish, then forget. In order for the principles of Lean to be successful for any business, its leaders must first understand that it is a cultural shift, not a quick fix.
Although organisations can see the benefits of Lean management quickly, as a result of a reduction in wasted resources or more efficient processes, it is not something that is started and stopped solely to help manage profitability or cash flow.
Lean management requires on-going investment in the people who run your organisation and contribute to its success. By inspiring leaders to become more Lean and educate them on the benefits to their departments and the organisation as a whole, you can ensure they operate with a Lean approach permanently. In addition, Lean leaders help nurture other members of the team to participate in Lean initiatives. Whether it’s training more junior team members or explaining the importance of cutting out waste in processes, the ethos of Lean can spread throughout your business and have a positive impact.
Involvement at every level
It’s important to remember that Lean management isn’t only a tool for Chief Executives and business owners. The concept of Lean and continuous improvement requires support at every level, so it’s important to pass down information and training in the right way. You’ll only get so far if you focus on business improvements at the highest level of your organisation. In order for the initiative to make a difference in the long term, employees at every level must develop Lean habits – continually looking for ways processes can be improved and waste can be reduced.
A commitment to asking questions
Leaders tend to be accustomed to speaking and providing the answers required by team members in order to deliver the best results within an organisation. But when it comes to Lean management, your leaders must make the shift from giving answers to asking questions. ‘Why do we do this?’ ‘What do we gain from this activity?’ Could we reduce the time it takes to do X?’. In a continually improving organisation, leaders must get inquisitive.
Getting to the root of the problem
A significant element of your Lean management drive is root cause analysis, which is the terminology used when your leaders identify issues at the earliest possible point. For example, if your business receives multiple complaints regarding a defect in a product, a Lean leader will investigate the entire chain of events that lead to that customer receiving a faulty item and correct any error. Your leaders must become experts at root cause analysis, always searching for the earliest possible cause of a potentially damaging – and costly - problem.
One of the most effective ways of introducing Lean management into your leadership team for long term business benefits is with an official Lean Six Sigma accreditation. Comprising five different ‘belts’ (white, yellow, green, black and master black) these represent different levels of knowledge, seniority and skills when it comes to understanding and implementing the principles of Lean management. The belt system enables you to operate an effective approach within your business, with a variety of different leadership and supervisory stages. As an example, a Green Belt in Lean Six Sigma can assist with information gathering and analysis for a black belt, as well as providing guidance for those who have obtained a yellow belt.
To discuss Lean Six Sigma training solutions with our experienced facilitators, or for any questions about the process of implementing Lean management into your organisation, contact one of our experienced consultants at RNC.info@RNConsulting.co.uk