Have you recently taken over an organization and recognized that the leadership team is not prepared for the Lean transformation journey that you see is necessary to be successful? Your question – can this team deliver a Lean Leadership Transformation in the following areas:
- Moving to a customer focused environment
- Delivering on the key Lean principle of providing exactly what the customer wants when they want in the way they want it, without any waste
- Moving from a reactionary project focused approach to a planned process oriented approach
We recognize that training leadership isn’t the goal – the goal is to create an organization that is self-reliant, accomplishes results that are customer and cost focused, and where improvement is automatic. Over the past two decades, many of our clients have taken the journey from chaotic and internally focused organizations to world class Lean organizations where improvements are automatic and cultural.
The Levels of a Lean Transformation Journey
Over the years, we have recognized that the Lean Transformation journey migrates through these three levels:
Level 1: Incremental Improvement
- Many companies that implement improvement programs focus on skills training, allowing employees to use tools as they see fit
- This results in incremental, opportunistic improvements – sometimes valuable, but uneven and not always flowing to the bottom line
- Often, there is very little linkage to the critical strategic imperatives of the organization, as leaders aren’t converting strategy into measured improvements
Level 2: Systematic Improvement
- To improve processes to their maximum potential, an organization needs a systematic, structured, repeatable approach
- All key processes need to be included at some point, in a prioritized manner
- A wide range of quality and lean tools need to be deployed in an appropriate sequence
- The improvement efforts that begin to come out of this phase are linked to the well thought out strategy developed by the top leadership team
Level 3: Automatic Improvement
The ultimate improvement capability:
- Develops optimized processes – fully measurable and adjustable when data warrants
- Clear ownership by change experts ensures automatic diagnosis and improvement
- Has very tight linkage to the strategy of the organization so improvements tie directly to the desired goals and measurements
Each level carries its own activities and responsibilities. While there are areas of intersection between levels, clarity within a level is the most important component of success.
The interdependent roles of Leadership and Education are to pull the organization toward Automatic Improvement
Flows’ Phased Approach
Action Phases: To achieve lasting success, it is critical that the organization is on the ‘same page’ at each level described above, and executed via Flow’s unique four-phase process:
Phase 1, Getting Ready – Creating alignment within the organization, focused on the ‘critical few’ vs. the ‘trivial many’. Flow has had ongoing success utilizing Baseline and Hoshin Kanri methodologies. Hoshin Kanri is the lean term for flowing the strategic imperatives of an organization to every level of the organization, so that all process improvement efforts are linked directly to what is critically important.To gauge organizational alignment for yourself, ask the following questions at various levels of your organization:
- Is it clear to us what few things are critical to our short and long term success in Lean Transformation??
- Is that clarity of understanding consistent throughout the organization?
- Can all employees tie their own efforts to the critical few?
- Are we focused on, and are governance and rewards aligned around the critical few?
Phase 2, Getting Started – In many organizations there is inertia, even skepticism that new education, efforts, and tools can ensure success. This phase is focused on what Flow calls ‘proof of concept’. This phase need not be lengthy, but is necessary to build a foundation of belief. It is unusual for a transformation effort to contain existing momentum (engagement, speed, and direction) at the start. Flow utilizes the output of the Baseline and Hoshin to create momentum.
- A limited number of significant projects are selected and executed
- Participants in these projects are hand selected, forming a ‘coalition of the willing’ (people predisposed toward change and improvement)
- Accompanied by action based Education (‘belt’ level, with accompanying projects)) and Leadership (alignment, focus, communication and measurement)
- Energized by consistent Leadership attention and governance
- This dual focus on Lean Education/Process and Change Leadership enhance probability of success
Phase 3, Achieving Lasting Success – Once the Getting Started phase is underway (and understood), fairly rapid expansion of both the effort and the ‘coalition of the willing’ become more feasible, with decreased resistance.
- Larger, more impactful projects are undertaken
- Education becomes more and deeper formal (higher ‘belt’ level)
- Leadership, governance, and communication are all enhanced
- Ties to the ‘critical few’ are strengthened (Hoshin), and the coalition is expanded
- Education begins to move in-house (train the trainer)
- Change leaders act on strategies and goals, measuring results and adapting behaviors for greater gain
Phase 4, Becoming Self-Sustaining: This phase is where improvement moves from Systematic toward Automatic. The organization is now armed with Leadership, Alignment, Education and measurable success. The key now is to sustain and enhance all that has gone before.
- Continue to bring education and training in house
- Develop or purchase a standard set of materials
- Expand and refine governance
- Expand the coalition, make cross-business connections
- Measure, measure, measure – business impact
- Implement a measured plan that moves early successful disciples into key leadership positions
- Continue to communicate, widely and often
Do You Need Help With Leadership Transformation?
Flow consulting has been assisting organizations large and small through this process for over 20 years. We stand ready and able to help, regardless of where your organization is in the improvement cycle (Incremental, Systematic, or nearing Automatic).
Why not get in touch and see how Flow Consulting can help you with Leadership Transformation.