Friday, March 27, 2009

A Roadmap to Lean: Creating the Plan

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 final step in the Planning phase is to create the implementation plan. In this step, we want to:

  • Define and sequence the Kaizen events to be conducted
  • Identify and allocate personnel required for each Kaizen event
  • Re-allocate existing workloads if required to free up resources
  • Create a plan that reflects the priorities identified to date
  • Define the overall metrics to be used to monitor progress

All of the planning steps so far have lead to this point in the effort. With this information, the plan can set in motion the actions that will begin to deliver actual results – savings from waste elimination. Although the plan should be oriented to deliver the best bang for the buck, it is often times a good idea to start with a fairly simple, easy–to-do event so that those involved can learn about the process and have an early success. Coming out of the chutes with the biggest, most difficult event will likely discourage people before they even get started. Deliverables from this task will include:

  • An activity plan that defines the sequence and duration of the planned Kaizen events
  • Defined milestones and expected dates of achievement
  • Definition of the progress metrics to be used
  • Assignment of participants and accountabilities for each Kaizen event
  • Creation of a public information area so that everyone can be informed

It should be recognized that this plan is not set in stone. Many times, during one Kaizen event, an issue is uncovered that was not considered before which becomes more important than others in the plan. By being flexible, which is a mantra of Lean, these new and better ideas can be addressed without losing the overall focus. As long as these ideas are in sync with the overall goals and metrics set forth in the beginning, changing the plan makes sense to seize the new opportunities.

This five step planning phase for Going Lean can take a few days or a few weeks, depending on the size and type of organization and the scope the effort. However, it needs to be done to some extent since implementation without it will lead to a haphazard approach that kills momentum and does not yield significant results. It also isn’t really over when it is “done”. Like the whole idea of Being Lean, it is all about ongoing, continuous improvement - so it all needs to be constantly reviewed over time.

On to Implementation!! Are you Best-in-Class?