Few days ago I had question posted on Linkedin asking :
Which is the most effective lean tool you have ever used and why?
One of my reason to ask this question was help me decide which tools would be the best and effective to use in lean transformation. I was searching for something simple yet brings confidence and faith in the Lean concept at the process level.
All the answers I got were really valuable to expand my understanding. Some of the top tools people selected were 5S and VSM
Personally I have used 5S as the first event to get visibility. People can understand it without even telling them that we are using lean concept, which sometimes scare people who don’t like change. The sustainability is a challenge if you have not been able to get accept it. Small rewards either monetary or could just a trophy for having best , clean and standardized workstation have helped many to motivate the people. But should not end there proper audit system may help you to some extend , the best way to know you have succeeded is when the people start believing in system , start using this tool without being initiated by the management.
VSM is another important and yet simple tool, and could be used at more strategic level too. It gives you a bigger picture of how many processes are related to each other to add Value. It is good tool to plan the future state. Due it its versatility its used in different applications Like Scott E. Davis and his team used to to reduce time for change order processing.
Juan Carlos Sol & Michael Della Fortuna both agree that People play important part in this whole process rather than the tools. Tools on most occasions are not used as exactly described in the book but will be combined with others, adapted to suit the situation using common sense.
The biggest thing we learn every time we go through this process, and that most people who answered agreed, is that if we do not have the commitment of the top level management for the lean transformation it is not possible to get any significant results.
I will consider all these inputs from all the people in my plan to develop lean transformation Road map and would like to thank all the people who answered and offered valuable advice.
The Making of Lean Leader
The lean transformation has been tried by many, and many have failed to archive the miraculous results which were initially expected.
why you would ask?
The reasons are many, but one prime reason is the culture of the people in that organization. If your culture is not ready for change, it will not!
If you refer to the Shingo Model , it too describes something called the ” Cultural enablers” as the foundation of any lean transformation.
Cultural transformation needs visionary leader who is very well acquainted with the dynamics of the organization and good at the art of persuasion. As described by Richard Shell, persuasion is “Part emotional intelligence, part politics, part rhetoric and part psychology” .What he refers to as “The Art of WOO“. WOO – winning others over
The most important quality of the lean leader is perseverance, there will be lot of failures in the beginning but the positive approach by a good leader will keep things moving. People should be allowed to take risk and be comfortable with failing. This is very essential if you want that everyone take responsibility for their processes and results. Not only does this free the leader to do more strategic thinking but the synergistic effect of everyone trying to solve problems at all the levels in the organization tremendously boost the transformation process.
Leaders don’t cultivate bee workers they promote people who are entrepreneur in their respective function. This makes innovation as part of the culture.
Jack Welch describes this as two traits of the leader – “positive Energy and ability to energize others” which according to him are inbuilt in a person. He also describes other two traits “edge and ability to execute” which are developed by experience.
Leader should respect others and be open to ideas from people at different levels and functions. A good leader shares his knowledge with others and expect the same from others. They believe best way to learn is to teach someone , and then let that person apply the same technique in his unique way. Thus by teaching several people and sharing their experiences the whole team learns at much faster pace and more innovative applications are discovered.
Lean Leader also has the traits of the “Effective Executive” as explained by great late Peter F. Drucker
Having a good leader is not only a requirement of lean transformation , but is a necessary for growth and sustainment of any organization.