Is there a fast track to developing a Lean Culture?
A common question I get asked is â€œHow long does it take to implement Lean?â€ Talk about an open ended question. Well, it depends! Yes, I know here we go again with that â€œit dependsâ€ phrase. The truth is it depends on several factors:
- How committed is the business to implementing Lean?
- What level of understanding exists within the business?
- Who is going to oversee the implementation process?
- How is the business system going to integrate the Lean process?
Basic lean tools:
I can go on and on, but I think you get the idea. It really does depend on so many things. The main problem with many companies that embark on their Lean journey, it that they are not prepared. They think that implementing Lean is all about teaching people how to use the tools. This is not true. The lean tools are a small part of the Lean transformation process. During my training seminars, I tell people that Lean consists of 10% Lean tools and 90% Lean Culture. Anyone can learn how to apply the basic lean tools but only a small number of organizations will go on to be capable of developing a Lean Culture. Why is this?
Definition of Lean Culture:
Tools and techniques are scattered around us every day. Some are used consistently. Some are not. Tools and techniques enhance our productivity when they are applied in the right environment. Lean tools and techniques are the same. They must be applied in the right environment and that is within a developing Lean Culture. It is a chicken or the egg related problem. Which comes first, the Lean tools or the Lean Culture? Actually, it is both.
Traditionally, a company will learn the Lean tools first and then use them to improve their processes. They will designate someone to drive the improvement process to success. They will go onto develop a Lean business process, which integrates the Lean tool and techniques. However, this is a house of cards because the success of their Lean implementation is dependent upon an individual making it happen. If this person leaves the company, the process could fall apart, and it so often does. The sustainment of any improvements will be reliant on a Lean Culture being in place. A Lean Culture is developed as the business moves from an individual driving the process towards the system integrating Lean principles into its way of life. How does one recognize a business with a Lean Culture? They are living Lean and not just doing it. They have made theÂ move from a business that allows optional activities to one that has defined and implemented required behaviors. Things occur based on specific just-in-time requirements.