How to Sustain and Improve a lean culture with a Lean Management System

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How to Sustain and Improve a lean culture with a Lean Management System

On paper, Lean Six Sigma and other lean process programs sounds exciting and a great boost for your company. We think so too, but we always caution managers and entrepreneurs before inflicting any sort of system or program on their company. We say ‘inflict’ because ultimately, you’re forcing your staff and organization to follow your orders, whether they want to or not, whether they’re ready or not.

Motivating your staff is easy. It’s making them ready to face the changes you want to enact and meet the challenges of the new system that’s hard. This is especially important for any enterprise or organization that wants to adopt the ‘lean culture’. A lot of unaware managers think that Lean Six Sigma or any other lean production scheme is hard to implement simply because it involves cutting down. What they don’t realize is that it is impossible to implement a lean culture in the long term if your team isn’t ready. This is why you need a lean management system to complement your lean production process to create a lean culture for your company.

LEAN Management

So how do you implement a lean management system? Experts say that it’s simple, and it is. The trick is that it needs constant work. Let’s take a look:

1. Leader standard work.

Standard work forms are necessary not just for your staff but also for the team leaders and managers. Although their work may not be set, there must be some standard to their tasks like time allotment and deadlines. Try to standardize the work as much as possible, especially when you’re taking on new managers. When their work is standardized, it’s easier for people to know how to perform and what’s expected of them.

2. Visual controls.

Gantt charts, schedules and other visual materials that let staff know what results are expected of them are great guides for everyone to see. Keep in mind that these visual cues and aids don’t have to be eye-catching or have good design. What’s important is that they’re there and are updated all the time with current data. This data may be directly related to the work being done at the moment. Production numbers are a great way to show people if they are on track, behind or excelling.

3. Be accountable on a daily basis.

Although other approaches might say the daily meetings create too much work and effort, the lean culture needs it to have a regular accountability check. When people know that their actions and work are called into question or scrutinized daily, they make sure that they are responsible and perform their tasks well. These ‘standing-up’ meetings can simply be to check numbers and update on the day. You can also briefly discuss what went wrong during the day and how to avoid similar situations in the future.

4. Call everyone to have discipline.

If lean culture is a machine, then discipline is its fuel. Discipline is what will keep the lean culture maintained and running. Every principle, system and task you and your staff have to do under a lean culture can only be maintained when you have discipline. The standards are always there to guide you and the daily meetings on accountability are great motivators to maintain discipline.

So how does lean culture face challenges and problems? With the right actions in an open, effective manner. This means that you have to act at once, but not all problems can be addresses from the get-go. What’s most important is that your staff sees you doing something concrete about the problem in a way that benefits the most of the stakeholders. You may have to implement short stopgaps and then create support groups within the company to address the whole issue.

But how do you maintain lean culture? After the consultants are gone and the initial fervor and passion wane, how do you keep the controls in place? You keep updating. You go back to the stakeholders and realign your goals and processes if you need. Lean management and lean production can only be achieved if you live and breathe it all the time.

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