Lean Process Improvement Part 2: Lean for ‘New Joiners’

Implementing Lean where you have no previous experience has its many challenges but equally opens up multiple new opportunities. One thing you need to gain as a first step is a commitment from management and teams, and you then have limited time to prove that it works. Quick proof of concept on a smaller scale is essential for success and for expanding Lean further.

Taking the first step and moving on consistently engaging your teams along the way, gives you great chances to spread the knowledge and practices of Lean. Communicating regularly on the findings and successes is a great way to keep people engaged. Before you know it, you will see the first results and move on to expand to other teams that need help. Experience shows that once people see the benefits through the initial proof of concept, the demand for Lean outbreaks very quickly. And the results will not be delayed.

Lean for programs in progress

  1. Is your Lean program going as expected?
  2. Are your teams well engaged?
  3. Do results still come quickly?
  4. Are you managing to sustain all the great results achieved so far?
  5. Is leadership expecting twice more compared to previous years?

Sustaining the program is not easy, and one thing to advise is to go back regularly to your main objectives to ensure you keep a good focus of what you set out to achieve. As the program advances and matures, teams start to use it as a place to drop off their different issues and expect a magic resolution. Ideas pile up, and you end up with a considerable bottleneck. The time has then come to be clear about priorities and get selective what gives the most impact and solves business-critical issues.

On the other hand, in my practice I have observed another phenomenon – teams no longer see any issues in their operations. Remember – there is no perfect process. Perfection can only be partially achieved with Artificial intelligence or a machine of some sort, the rest is subject to Continuous Improvement. If there are no longer ideas for improvement, this is a sure sign teams need to start looking at their processes from a new and different perspective.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes’’ Marcel Proust

Another common problem is the engagement of leadership and operational teams. Leadership should sustain some level of support for the program, as this would be vital for its success. Teams should realize that they are the true owners of the program in the sense that it serves them the purpose to improve their operation. The content and value of the program are entirely driven out of the operational teams with balanced management guidance.

What’s next?

Lean drives continuous improvement – the journey, the mindset that there is always room for improvement, no space for self-satisfaction that we have reached the top of what is possible. Seeing beyond what you think is possible today can only push you to work smarter tomorrow.

Rayna has extensive experience as process improvement consultant and trainer in quality methodologies. She holds MSc (Master of Science) degree in Strategic Quality Management from the University of Portsmouth, UK and the world recognized process improvement qualification Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
Experienced Lean Six Sigma trainer supporting numerous companies transform the way they work by building capacity in employees and expand their professional expertise. Trained, coached and certified 1500+ professionals.

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