The lean management approach was first applied in manufacturing. But today, we can also see its applications in UX, management, and software development. Over time, the process has proved to be efficient. Companies that adopted lean management have experienced two times more productivity and 40% fewer defects than traditional approaches. Even the time-to-market has been improved significantly.
Now, all these things look good on paper. However, the lean management process is a lot more complex. You can’t hack your way into the lean approach. Instead, it requires careful analysis and planning. You must pay attention to several little things.
Tips for implementing Lean Management Successfully
Here are a few simple tips on how to successfully implement lean management. Let’s begin:
1) Start with Tools, But Quickly Follow with Cultural Shift
Contrary to the popular belief that lean management is all about using a set of tools, cultural shift plays an equally important role. Most organizations fail not because they can’t figure out the tools and techniques but because they can’t shift their mindset. They stick to old beliefs only to realize none of their efforts are paying off.
So, start with adapting tools and techniques but quickly follow with a cultural shift. Make sure your team is self-reliant. Each member should pick and handle tasks instead of having management pick and assign them. This way, you can make the most out of lean management.
2) Facilitate Proper Training for Your Team
Sending soldiers to war without training only leads you to lose a battle even before fighting. Similarly, adopting lean without training members will only mean conflict, unnecessary waste, and failure.
Hence, it’s essential to ensure proper training within the team. Apart from this, organizing virtual Halloween games for work can also help employees to coordinate with each other in a better way.
Toyota, where lean management originated, terms it as learning by doing. At least 80% of your lean operations should be about doing, and 20% should amount to learning and training.
You can follow two types of approaches to training and learning in lean management:
- The Toyota way: Put team members in difficult situations and have them figure their way out.
- The Oliver Wight Approach: Run an action-based learning event to educate the lean development team.
3) Use Value Stream Mapping
Value stream mapping is an efficient tool for creating a value and waste map in a given process. With it, you can understand how the value flows throughout the process and help you identify and remove waste so that the value flows smoothly.
To create a value stream map like the current state map, future state map, and action plan for implementation. Talk to a cross-functional group of managers who can authorize resources and people who are a part of the process we are mapping. It will give you a clear overview of the process.
4) Use Experienced Training Facilitators
While training your team for lean management, it’s important to ensure training is relevant to real-world situations. Otherwise, there will be no tangible outcomes from it.
That’s why it’s essential to hire experienced training facilitators who have a better understanding of lean tools, philosophy, and applications in organizations. For example, workshops like KAIZEN can significantly reduce setup time (from 80 to 60 minutes) in just four days.
5) Organize Your Team Around Value Streams
In most organizations, teams are organized by processes or functions. Managers are responsible for overseeing the process, but no one is responsible for creating value. It has to change in lean management.
Managers will still manage the process, but they will also ensure the team creates value for customers. It will help you release products that solve real problems and offer real advantages to customers.
6) Don’t Underestimate the Power of Communication.
Communication & collaboration are the keys to success in lean management. They ensure all the people involved are on the same page.
Communication also encourages all the teams to come forward and share their ideas. It also builds a synergy across the team, and all the members work collectively to move ahead in a lean journey.
7) Give Lean Management a Serious Thought
You’re wrong if you’re looking at lean management as a friendly spare time activity or a one-time problem-solving approach. It simply won’t happen. To succeed in lean management, you must be serious about adopting it.
You must make lean mandatory across your organization and give people space to improve the existing process. Also, it would be best if you encouraged the leadership to focus on long-term learning to benefit the most from lean management.
8) Be Prepared for Resistance from Middle Management
According to a survey from Lean Enterprise Institute, middle management is most resistant to implementing lean management. The number is 36% compared to the lack of knowledge about implementation (31%) and employee resistance (27.7%).
So, give your middle management a little time to settle in when you implement lean management. It is a new approach; your middle management will be resistant initially but will get used to it later.
9) Focus on Big Wins Initially
Convincing people of lean management is difficult in the beginning because people don’t yet believe in its philosophy. So, it becomes crucial to achieve some big wins initially. Focus on identifying and achieving essential milestones. They will pave the way for your success and convince people that lean is a worthwhile investment.
10) Use Your Company’s Roots to Pave Your Way
There is no perfect way to get lean management right, and you have to work with what you already have and pave your way out. That’s what Toyota did. Even when they work with companies to teach their Toyota Production System (TPS), they insist that it has its own system.
The truth is someone did something, and it worked for them. But there is no guarantee that it will work for you too. So, use your company’s heritage to identify what you stand for and build your entire system around that.
11) Develop More Lean Leaders
The key to lean management success is not to take ownership of your process. The key is to offer conditions in which your team can seamlessly implement lean. Hence, you should focus on creating lean leaders who are trained in lean tools & techniques. Have enough hands-on experience and can support your team throughout their journey. For this, you can host training and knowledge transfer sessions.
So, these were the 11 best tips to help you embark on a successful journey to lean management. These tips may appear simple, but these little things will eventually add up.
Once you get these steps right, your journey to lean will be smooth. Rest, lean is all about patience. Keep practicing, keep experimenting, and don’t give up soon. You will eventually see results. Best of luck!