Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Roadmap to Lean: Develop a Lean Strategy

In order for an organization to transform from its current state of operation to one of a Lean Enterprise Organization, a two phase approach – Planning and Implementation - can be utilized. The second step in the Planning phase is to develop a market driven strategic plan for implementing lean in the entire organization. In this step, we want to:

  • Educate Senior Management on the Fundamentals
  • Identify Market Drivers for Lean
  • Define a Lean Vision
  • Develop Leadership Commitment
  • Update the Strategic Business Plan to Include Lean objective

By using the Lean assessment and the resulting findings and recommendations from the first step, the biggest opportunities and overall directions for the organization will start to become clear. The deliverables from this task will include:

  • A Lean Management Education Course
  • An Organizational Profile with a Lean Vision
  • Documentation of the Critical Success Factors
  • A Written Lean Mission Statement
  • A Proposed Implementation Time Frame

Including Lean in this level of strategic planning for the organization will assure that the lean concepts, practices and activities are in sync with the overall direction desired for the organization. Without this activity, it is highly possible for an organization to embark on the Lean journey, only to find that it keeps running into the “same ol’ way of doing things” and that the attempts at Lean are counter to the overall direction the organization wants to go. This will lead to ineffective implementation at best with downside results that include the creation of even more waste, poor morale on the part of those involved, and a loss of momentum for making improvements in the future. People are very tuned into performing per the direction from above, so if the top leadership of the organization has not taken the steps to be sure all is in order at the top, it will be very difficult to get the ship to turn around. Once the Lean strategy is developed, the next step of planning, Analyzing Opportunities, can proceed.

Are you Best-in-Class?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Roadmap to Lean: Assess Lean Readiness

In order for an organization to transform from its current state of operation to one of a Lean Enterprise Organization, a two phase approach – Planning and Implementation - can be utilized. The first step in the Planning phase is to assess the Lean readiness of the entire organization and determine what fundamental changes needs to occur in order for the effort to be successful. In this step, we want to:
  • Determine how prepared the organization is for Lean concepts
  • Determine how Lean fits the business strategy and corporate culture
  • Evaluate the level of Lean concept understanding
  • Develop a high level list of potential opportunities
  • Identify changes that are required to support the effort of “Going Lean”
  • Estimate how long it should take to achieve results

By using an established checklist and management interviews, the assessment should cover the entire organization in the following areas:

  • Workplace Organization, Visual Control, Housekeeping
  • Just-In-Time Production
  • Quality in the Product and Processes
  • Empowered Employees/Teams
  • Visible Management
  • Continuous Pursuit of Perfection
  • Company Organization and Management Style
  • Company Services

As a result of this assessment, the findings and recommendations need to be documented with candid points about issues that must be addressed prior to any Lean activity being performed as well as high level potential benefits that can be expected. These findings also need to identify the strengths of the organization that will support a Lean effort that is attempted. The biggest change to an organization going lean is usually the culture change and paradigm shift that goes along with the ideas of waste elimination, continuous improvement, and empowerment – all of which are central to being Best-in-Class as a Lean Enterprise Organization. Not addressing the high level issues identified will mean that subsequent activities will only have marginal success (if any at all) and the organization will have the status of “Doing Lean” rather than achieving the quantum leap overall improvement that goes with “Being Lean”. Once this assessment is complete and accepted, the next step of planning, Developing a Lean Strategy, can commence.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Lean is All About Continuous Improvement

“Lean” is a concept involving the elimination of waste and the concentration on value added activities and is rooted in the idea of continuous improvement. Although it has primarily been associated with and developed by the manufacturing sector, it is becoming apparent to many that the concepts of lean apply to much more than manufacturing. For example, in our practice at Peak Enterprise Solutions, we have applied our lean methodology to help manufacturers improve the processes of the front office and have helped a junior college improve their admissions process of accepting applications. In another example, the healthcare industry has been using the concepts of lean for quite a while.

In my previous note, I spoke about a 5 step cycle for continuous improvement. Although this cycle can be used to address specific problems or opportunities, there is a higher level process that should occur in order for an organization to take the path of “Going Lean”.

For an organization to become lean, we use a two phase approach – Planning and Implementation – each of which has five steps (why five? I don’t know, but it works!). This approach is customizable to a particular situation or client, but if we were to take someone through the entire process, the approach would be as follows:

Assess Lean Readiness
Develop a Lean Strategy
Analyze Opportunities
Address education and Training
Create a Plan of Implementation

Implement Rapid Change
Manage the Culture Change
Transform the Information System
Integrate the Supply Chain
Measure Continuous Improvement

In the next few notes, I will address each of these steps individually as a roadmap to going lean. Even if used only in part, along with the 5 step cycle for continuous improvement, the methodology vastly improves the chances of success from a shotgun approach used by many who attempt the effort. It is also key to the idea of “Being Lean” and not just “Doing Lean”. Please stay tuned or contact us for more information and please feel free to pass this on to others who may be interested.

Are you Best-in-Class?