Lean leaders

The Leader’s Role in Building a Lean Culture

Very often, identifying waste and improvement is the easy part of a lean programme. Sustaining the effort and winning the hearts and minds of people is often a much bigger challenge. This is true for well-established companies and public services. Certainly, Lean culture is usually driven from the top. But what is the role of the business leader and management team in shaping the lean future of the company? To keep this simple,

Lean Leader man in suit

Lean Leaders must have:

A vision for the company

“It is better to grow into profitability than to shrink into profitability” (Ref: The Lean Toolbox – Bicheno/Holweg). Employees are unlikely to support a cost-cutting programme and must see a vision for growth and opportunity in their company.

Strong communication channels

The company may have fine ideas and strategies. Likewise, the challenge is to communicate them to all of their workers. Structured management forums and regular briefing should be supported by a presence in the business processes. Certainly, management teams need to get out among their workforce and actively listen to feedback to keep in touch with the real issues in the business.

Key measures

A real-time and well-communicated measurement system is vital to ensuring that the business stays on track. If the employees don’t get this information, it is the same as a team competing in a game without knowing the score.

Systems for resource allocation

Allocation of resources must be based on real-time client demand.  Similarly, systems must respond quickly to the signals generated by the lean business processes.

Good processes to monitor performance and assist in removing roadblocks as required

There should be a sense of urgency to tackle problems straight away and to escalate unresolved issues quickly.

Methods to “Catch” people doing the right things and recognise them for the good work that they do

This reinforces Lean thinking within the company.

Finally, these issues often take a long time to get right. These leadership issues can take longer than implementing Lean Tools.

What is your view on the key priorities for business leaders in a lean culture transformation?

We hope you enjoyed reading about the Leader’s role in building a Lean culture.  You may also be interested in reading about our insights on Presentations are for Managers and McNally Joinery: Transforming the Business One Step at a Time.  All our blogs are available to read here.  Please connect with us on Linkedin and Twitter.