Lean Culture and Leadership

I wanted to dedicate this article to the topic of Lean Culture and Leadership because I think we don’t care enough about the social part of the whole Lean environment.

Lean Management means more than process flow optimization, or waste elimination is the entire culture. What I mean by this, that Lean is a mindset, not a standard or procedure you must learn or teach others. It’s about trusting the employees, colleges, and support each other. The whole Lean Culture is based on the Japanese lifestyle, beginning with RESPECT for human beings. 

You must never blame the people rather the process! Why? Because the employees are the greatest specialists in their work, which they are practicing 8 hours per day. They know how to do their job correctly, more than that, they develop new methods to achieve the desired results because they just have found a better way to do it. Rather than blaming them, you have to listen and observe them carefully, what they are doing, why, and what are the result (Gemba walk).

When respect is gain between lower and the higher level of employees, such as supervisor, team leader, engineers, managers, problems are discovered quickly and resolved within the team. In Toyota Culture, employees are responsible for resolving problems that occur on the shop floor, without announcing the higher supervisors. They are working so well within the team and with the cross-functional teams, is no wonder that they can handle minor problems.

To create such an environment in your company, one should focus on the following:

  • Smooth process flow, no bottlenecks
  • Safe processes (equipment, tools)
  • Just in time (JIT)
  • Visual board up to date
  • Standardized procedures, work instructions up to date
  • Trained employees
  • Rotating workflow
  • Motivated employees
  • Be a model for your team

To fulfill these requirements, should exist an action plan for the team involved in the Lean activity. Let’s say you are planning to start your Lean Journey, but you don’t know where to begin. I think the Lean Progress Report I prepared for you is the perfect support to evaluate what the team has achieved so far and what would be the next steps for your team. Additionally, you will need a Team Agenda, Team Scoreboard, and Standard Work Template because a good action plan is a half success.

I attached some templates and resources that could help you as a leader, engineer, or whatever function you possess. 

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