The Lean System is one that is customer-centric. In a company that practices Lean, value is defined by the customer. All of a Lean company’s processes are developed and maintained with the main aim of catering to customers in the best possible way.
In order to achieve Lean in your company, you will need a team of Lean managers to continually lead and support subordinates to improve the processes that provide value-added services and products for customers.
This is called the Lean Management System. In this system, we use various tools that are designed specifically to connect the purpose of providing value to the customer to all work processes and staff in the company. Some examples of Lean management tools are daily accountability, visual control boards and leader standard work.
However, these tools alone will not be effective unless they are used along with the correct mind-set. To successfully implement the Lean Management System, you need to begin at the individual level, slowly influencing every single worker’s mind-set and motivating them to believe in the cause.
Can the Lean System be Implemented Without Top Down Commitment?
A common question is if Lean can be considered successful if there is no top down commitment. In other words, can a company be said to have achieved Lean if, in reality, only one of its divisions has applied the Lean Management System?
The answer to that is a definite no. Top down commitment is critical for the success of Lean; it is almost impossible to truly achieve Lean without the support of management since Lean managers are necessary to motivate and engage all staff to work together to achieve Lean.
Another pertinent role of Lean managers is to set a good example for their subordinates, teaching their staff the proper approaches and mind-sets in the workplace. If staff have an inspiring and capable Lean manager that they can look up to, they will be more likely to be motivated to work harder individually and as a team toward achieving Lean.
Also, the people on the leadership team of a company are those who can affect real change because they are the ones who call the shots. Even if a majority of the members of staff believe in the principles of Lean and want to work toward it, if they do not have the support of management, the company will most certainly not be able to achieve Lean.
Without direct management support, there is a conflict in terms of goals. Non-Lean managers tend to want to pocket as much profit as possible, typically at the expense of customers. Non-Lean managers also tend to focus solely on outcomes. On the other hand, Lean managers view their customers as priority. They also have a stronger focus on processes rather than on results, specifically on processes that benefit the customer.
As such, the management’s role in achieving the Lean System is extremely critical, and Lean is definitely not a possibility if members of leadership are not fully on board with the idea.