Friday, April 10, 2009

A Roadmap to Lean: Manage the Culture Change

Part 7 of a 10 part series

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 Implementation phase is to manage the culture change that comes with going Lean. In this step, we want to:

  • Identify the cultural impediments that must be overcome
  • Impart the vision of Lean to the entire organization
  • Make sure that “Continuous Improvement” and Quality are part of the culture
  • Get middle management on board
  • Identify and win over the “Grumblers”

Attaining the paradigm shift that is required throughout the entire organization is the biggest challenge to succeeding at Going Lean. Along with developing the idea of Continuous Improvement, Employee Empowerment is one of the most critical issues for success. It has been stated “…. the major inhibitor to get a lean environment is the inability to trust the workforce and really give up a certain level of control in order to give people the power to implement their own ideas and be respected as experts in their area….”. Although this is a statement regarding the managerial side of the issue, it must be noted that it is as difficult of a change for the regular workers as it is for the managers. You can’t just give empowerment to people, they have to take it, and many do not know how to be empowered.

Management needs to monitor the impact of Lean on the organization and make Continuous Improvement, Quality and Empowerment part of the culture. Points to remember in this process are:

  • Resistance to change IS THE NORM, not the exception
  • People must be informed, empowered, willing and able in order for changes to be made effectively
  • Personal and organizational values affect how people react to change
  • People go through the change process in stages and go through these stages as individuals

Managing the culture change is vital to success in Being Lean. The consequences of not doing so include having managers who don’t supply resources or those who filter important information, employees become distracted and loose interest, valued employees leave the organization, or unforeseen obstacles arise. By succeeding in this aspect alone will mean that all of the unknowns and obstacles can be overcome as they arise. Transforming the information system is the next stop on our roadmap.

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