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Lean Adoption Roadmap

Lean Adoption Roadmap

“A good way to get started with Lean is a pilot for teams that are open to change and improvement like the Information Technology department”


If your organization is looking for a predictable way to increase value by lowering costs, optimize delivery and delivering innovation while producing quality products and services, follow these 10 key Lean adoption steps for success: 

Executive Sponsorship – Senior leadership should be committed to Lean adoption and lead from the top. That means Leaders at all levels are hands on, out front, on the work floor letting the organization know this is how you will achieve your goals. You must see Lean as your strategy not just a set of tools. It can’t be delegated to a project or program team, it must become the organization’s way-of-life. Process improvement events are intended to both improve the process as well as change the way people think about problem solving.

Initial Pilot Teams – When determining where to begin with Lean adoption it is important to identify teams that are open to change and improvement. It is also helpful if the teams have contact and influence with the rest of the organization. In Hawaii we have seen the Information Technology department a good place to begin with Lean adoption given their role in introducing new tools and approaches to the organization. Beginning with IT also has the added benefit of developing the tools necessary for broad Lean adoption so they are available to the rest of the organization when needed.

Communicate Your Strategy – It is important to communicate your organizations Strategic Plans or Intent prior to Lean adoption so the employees knows what is expected of them as they develop their cascading plans and Roadmaps. This is also a good opportunity to consider branding your Lean adoption effort as a “business system” or “business method” (e.g.: “Lean Business System”) and beginning an internal communication and marketing plan for broad acceptance.

Develop Cascading Plans – Whether senior leadership provides specific Strategic objectives, targets and timelines or simply high level Strategic goals, priorities, and Intent; the lower levels of the organization must develop cascading plans to ensure there is broad organizational agreement on what must be done by who to achieve the Strategy and operational targets and provide guidance and clarity to the teams before they do Roadmaps.

Value Stream Oriented Team Roadmaps – Team Roadmaps develop a common view about the future and what they want to achieve over time. It leverages the expertise of the employees and their managers who do the work your customers value and engages the organization in creating a plan for a bright future. Roadmaps communicate how the employees will contribute to the organization’s overall strategy by those who do the work. Contributor involved Roadmaps provide teams the opportunity to communicate their intent for achieving Strategic Intent and are an effective way to build employee engagement and create a “volunteer army” for Lean adoption.

Key Performance Indicators – Use your plans to develop Key Performance Indicators beginning with top leadership based on your Strategy  and the operating model that communicate the level of performance you’re trying to achieve. Extend KPI development down through the organization to each resource manager and supervisor. Make no mistake, we all get paid for results and if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

Leader Standard Work – A closed loop system that creates a fact-based focus to drive improvement. It relies on a disciplined approach to Policy Deployment, Visual Controls, Daily Management and is the foundation on which all employee Lean practices depend. It changes the focus of leaders, managers and supervisors from being the primary problem solvers to building the problem-solving muscle of their organization. It represents the current most efficient method for planning and controlling business activities and involves two-way accountability systems such activities as weekly staff meetings, one-on-ones, Gemba walks, monthly Op’s/PD reviews, A3 Problem Solving Process, etc..

Daily Visual Management – This is the use of daily visual aids to manage the operation including work assignments, schedules, performance tracking, and status. It’s a way of communicating to a broad audience in a clear, concise way and quickly puts information in the hands of those who can take action. It also requires that the leader goes and sees what is actually happening on the work floor, or the digital equivalent,  (known as Gemba) and should also act as a trigger for daily Kaizen and the leader coaching improvement Kata used to grow the continuous improvement muscle of the organization.

Problem Solving Process – A3 thinking is a philosophical approach and a Problem Solving Process (PSP) that centers on a well-communicated, team approach using the Plan Do Check Act (PCDA) cycle. The Problem Solving process consists of a sequence of sections that fit together depending on the type of problem to be solved. These include defining the problem, determining the background, analyzing the problem, generating possible solutions, analyzing the solutions, selecting the best solution(s), planning the next course of action and how the results will measured. It is useful to have a structure to follow to make sure that nothing is overlooked.

Daily Kaizen & Blitz Events – This is about getting your people to approach problem solving and the analysis of actual root causes from a different and ceaselessly inquisitive perspective. It relates to activities done by all employees to continuously improve their work processes to meet their objectives. It includes such aspects as one-piece-flow, value stream mapping, problem solving processes and visual management. It affects all aspects of the organization from leadership, management, sales and marketing, supply chain, SG&A, to operations and delivery.

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