Many organisations seek to understand the Lean Tools and all of the wonderful Japanese expressions – Kanban, Kaizen, Gemba……..but the truth is that the secret is not in the Lean tools – if you think about them long enough, they are mainly common sense and derived from experience and wisdom. The real challenge is to create a Lean Culture and an environment which encourages people to think.
We were engaged with a business recently who are now ‘too busy’ to think about training for at least 3 to 6 months. Unfortunately, investment in people is not something that you switch on and off depending on how busy you are – it actually demonstrates the business priorities clearly to its people.
Too busy to do something in any context simply means that that something is not a priority right now.
So, here are 10 tips to transform your business.
Every employee can answer whether they feel valued in a business – what would your people say?
Is it easy to express an opinion in your workplace? Are new ideas encouraged and sought? Every employee will be able to answer this.
Many business environments seem to be weighed down by work. There is no end to the demands and no light at the end of the tunnel (or really a lack of leadership).
There are tools to combat this. One of the keys is to understand the relationship between demand and available resources. The lean approach uses tools like TAKT and Value Stream Mapping and seeks to understand Flow and Pull.
The goal is to take the stress out of the process and create a responsive environment.
Everyone knows when something is not right.
Imagine allowing your employees to stop whatever they are doing whenever they are unsure, or spot something wrong or don’t have the right information or tools. Would the business grind to a halt?
Creating an environment with a goal of ensuring that everyone is properly trained, has the right information or tools and is encouraged to highlight errors leads to tackling these issues without fear. This ultimately has a huge impact on getting the job done right every time.
Once we look at everything in our business as a process, the challenge is to build strong processes that set up our people and our clients for success.
As an engineer, I particularly like problem solving. To be honest, I think many people enjoy problem solving and there is a great sense of achievement in ‘fixing’ something.
In business, the ‘fix it’ approach often goes undocumented, is based on one issue and can cause more problems long term as we ignore past experience and wisdom by drifting away from established norms.
Structured problem solving ensures that we focus on the correct issues, involve all stakeholders, consider all options and embrace innovative thinking. We design experiments or trials to test our ideas and evaluate the results. Finally, we ensure that positive changes are shared and become part of our processes.
Just when we think that our business is the best at what we do, a bright spark elsewhere re-invents the customer experience in some innovative way. A lean mindset is acutely aware of the client experience and constantly seeks out new ideas to improve the experience.
Each improvement becomes part of the new standard and this ensures that we collect all of the experience and tips and tricks of our people into our processes.
Without standard work, your business is vulnerable to key staff leaving the business with all of this experience, tips and tricks leaving with them.
The behaviours of leadership in a business will clearly re-enforce what is important in that business. The behaviours that are tolerated is what you will get, and that becomes your culture.
First impressions in some businesses can clearly express what is tolerated without even saying a word.
To quote Simon Sinek:
“Every organisation knows WHAT they do……some know HOW they do it but very few organisations know WHY they do what they do”
Winning the hearts and minds of people in an organisation is usually based on a sense of purpose as opposed to the achievement of tasks.
Lean thinking encourages everyone to constantly pose the value versus waste question. Ultimately, the value of our organisation is decided by the clients or customers and what they are prepared to pay for. The customer experience will determine future repeat business and will go a long way to marketing your product or services. Our assessment of value should always be through the experience of the customer.
You may be interested in applying Lean thinking to your business and putting these ideas into practice?
Click here to contact the team at ETAC or enquire about our next Lean Business programme.