Is Lean Thinking for everyone? We are often asked this question in discussions about Lean. I think W. Edwards Deming answers it best.
Maybe he’s a little harsh in saying that businesses may not know what they are doing. However, we would argue that if you can’t describe what you do as a process, then your clients are probably having a different experience of your product or service depending on who they are interacting with.
Imagine being recommended the roast duck at Emilio’s by a colleague when visiting her town. After relating your mediocre experience next day, she said, “Oh no, you should have waited until Thursday. That’s when Emilio himself comes in and he can make a mean roast duck”. Marvellous!
There’s also been much talk lately about ‘process’ in sports. If any team is unsure of the process, then improvements are simply trial and error as opposed to building on what has already been established as best practice.
So, can we describe Marketing as a process? Finance? Purchasing? Retail? Hospitality? Healthcare?
Lean Thinking in Business
We think that any function in a business needs to be understood as a process.
The people in an organisation need a baseline process. Moreover, management need to support these people to improve that process.
Consequently, we should all view errors, complaints and accidents as feedback and opportunities to strengthen the process.
In addition, companies should encourage staff not to accept errors. Indeed, they should encourage their staff to highlight when they are unable to perform their tasks effectively. Everyone should be encouraged not to pass on problems.
This is a brave undertaking for any management team. But it is the start of the Lean journey for everyone.
‘Stop’ – I don’t know what I’m doing
Imagine creating an environment in your workplace where it was okay for anyone to stop what they were doing if they weren’t sure of:
- the information they received.
- the training they received.
- the system they were working with.
Organisations should provide support to their teams to address any issues.
Some of you may be of the opinion that nothing would get done with this approach. In that case, the business would be a long way from your goal of everyone being comfortable with standard processes that deliver value to your clients.
Set up your Employees for Success
Indeed, this may be an aspirational objective that is never fully achieved.
Do your current processes and training prepare your employees for success or failure?
Edwards Deming was of the opinion that 90% of errors in any business is due to the systems and management of processes rather than the employees.
Do you agree?
You may be interested in applying Lean Thinking in your business and putting these ideas into practice?
Enterprise Ireland offer support to clients through their Lean Business programmes.
Click here for details.
Click here for details of ETAC’s next Lean Business programme.
We hope you enjoyed reading about Lean Thinking. You may also be interested in reading about our insights on our 10 Top Lean Tips for Business Transformation and the Rush to Solution. All our blogs are available to read here. Please connect with us on Linkedin and Twitter.