Friday, May 1, 2009

A Roadmap to Lean: Measure Continuous Improvement

Part 10 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 fifth step in the Implementation phase is to Measure Continuous Improvement throughout the organization. In this step, we want to:
  • Implement Measurements for Key Success Factors and for Each Improvement Event
  • Develop Business Performance Metrics that relate to Customer Value
  • Develop Metrics to Monitor Lean Learning for Everyone in the Organization
  • Establish Baseline Measurements Prior to Improvements
  • Communicate Progress and Results to the Entire Organization on Daily Basis
  • Initiate a Formal Review Process for Key Functional Leaders

In a traditional business model, cost plus profit was used to determine the price. In the Lean model, price minus cost determines the profit, so the focus needs to be on the elimination of waste. True, the price may be affected by the concentration on customer value because the customer is willing to pay more for what you deliver, but price is not under the organization’s control as much as cost is due to market and competition issues, especially in the world market we exist in today. Measures that focus on the Lean process, the elimination of waste and customer value are those that will drive continuous improvement once the initial Lean effort is complete. Key deliverables of this phase include:

  • Business Performance Metrics (a critical few) that are Simple and Straightforward
  • Operational Metrics that Relate to Takt Time and Waste Elimination
  • Public Scoreboards to Communicate Event Related and Business Performance Metrics
  • Lean Learning Metrics that Promote Cross Training, Improvement Activity Involvement, Problem Solving, Team Building , Empowerment, Commitment and Cooperation
  • Dynamic Communication to Everyone Regarding All Lean Initiatives
  • Rewards that are Aligned with Lean Goals
  • Frequent Celebrations of the Successes

This tenth and final step in the Roadmap to Lean is not really a single step – it is an ongoing and ever evolving process: hence the term Continuous Improvement. Those who treat Lean as a project that comes to completion are missing to whole point of taking the trip. The real benefit is the transformation within the organization that allows everyone to contribute to the elimination of waste and the concentration on what brings value to the customer. It is the culture change that occurs that brings the biggest benefit of the Lean journey. Lean performance is focused on the efforts of people to accomplish change and is never complete. Instead, it is an ongoing process that will lift the organization to previously unattainable results. By following these ten steps of this Roadmap to Lean, an organization should be able to change its focus from “Doing Lean” to “Being Lean”. Are you Best-in-Class?