Roadmap to Successful LEAN Implementations: Starting the journey to improve your organization and benefit your customers

Lean-LogoMuch has been said and written about the benefits of LEAN, both for manufacturing organizations and office environments. While cutting out waste in your organization and saving money, you also can improve the way you serve your customers. It’s a “twofer” that starts many companies on a journey to increased revenues.

However, for those who have never undertaken a LEAN transformation, or perhaps have tried and failed, the question might be asked: “How do we ensure a successful implementation of LEAN principles?” While having a trusted and experienced partner who can guide the organization on the LEAN journey will definitely improve your likelihood of success, there are several “roadmap” elements that are essential.

Gain visible, organization-wide involvement

One of the first steps before a LEAN project should be undertaken is that buy-in by the senior management of the organization is critical. If it is an enterprise-wide endeavor, the CEO or president needs to “walk the talk” and not only support the effort, but also visibly demonstrate the support. If it is for a particular function (manufacturing, operations, finance) then the respective VP/director needs to be the visible one.

This commitment must be cascaded throughout the organization and conveyed at all levels of management. Usually this takes time and effort, as managers might be resistant to change and concerned how “their turf” is being affected. Having your partner conduct change management sessions with the top-level management should help assuage concerns and fear.

Align company vision, mission, values, and objectives

Of course, any internal or external project should be aligned with the core values and objectives of the company. Any inconsistencies with the organization’s vision or mission statements should be immediately stopped and corrected. Further, commitment of resources must be maintained throughout the implementation so it is good to ensure the annual objectives can still be met along with driving LEAN principles.

Focus on how the customer will benefit

Ultimately, the customer should benefit from the LEAN transformation, either directly or indirectly. Lower prices, faster delivery, higher quality, or shorter time to market should be a measureable outcome. In fact, some of the early steps after identifying the project are to define the current state, the envisioned future state, and measuring pre-implementation parameters so the improvement can be calculated after the implementation.

Celebrate LEAN success

Once the project is complete and successful, make sure the principals who were key in the implementation are rewarded, and team/group celebrations are held. Success breeds success, and once people can see the fruits of their labors, they will be more embracing of both LEAN concepts and future projects.

For an example of a successful LEAN implementation, read how Pragmatek helped to lead the Lean/Six Sigma corporate culture shift at ADC by developing and delivering a full range of customized LeanSigma training material that kick started the company’s business improvement initiatives in all areas of the organization. Download a copy of this case study.

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