With a lean strategy, operations management can survive unexpected changes and minimize interruptions, allowing a company to continue producing value for its stakeholders.
A new, transformative approach to working also requires a transformation in leadership. To be truly effective, Lean thinking requires effective Lean management to champion Lean principles, provide guidance, and ensure that Lean thinking is used to optimize the entire organizational system for value delivery.
Putting Lean management principles into practice necessitates a shift in mindset: from supervisor to teacher and coach. Lean leaders must set a gentle example, ensuring that Lean principles are applied with the right goal in mind: to maximize the delivery of value to the customer in a sustainable manner.
Similarly to how no two Lean transformations are the same, no two applications of Lean management principles are the same. Lean management isn’t a predefined set of methods, tools, or practices. It would be more accurately defined as a management philosophy, a long-term approach that seeks to improve processes and products incrementally.
Lightweight, Mentoring Leadership
Business agility depends on an organization’s ability to use and adapt to the most up-to-date information. When an executive makes a decision and communicates it through the ranks in a traditional corporate structure, it may be outdated – not an effective way of staying ahead of the competition.
They recognize that the people who use the product have the best ideas for improving it, so they encourage all ideas to be heard.
They don’t waste time with long feedback loops up and down command chains. Instead, they create standardized communication processes, share knowledge across teams, and defer commitment to ensure that decisions are made with the most up-to-date information.
Leaders must take on a fundamentally different role to effectively practice Lean management. A Lean leader’s role is that of a coach.
Coaches rally their teams around a common goal – a why that should guide every decision, no matter how big or small. They equip their teams with success tools and encourage them to make wise decisions that will allow for long-term, competitive growth. During game time, they provide guidance and leadership as needed, but they mostly rely on their team’s skills, knowledge, and experience to accomplish the team goal.
Create An Environment Of Continuous Improvement
Lean leaders promote adherence to the scientific method, which organizations can implement through continuous improvement or Kaizen. “The scientific mind does not so much provide the right answers as it does ask the right questions,” Claude Levi-Strauss said. Lean leaders’ role is to foster continuous improvement by asking guiding questions, supporting teams as they test hypotheses, and celebrating improvements in both performance and process.
Leaders must trust their employees’ abilities, knowledge, and experience to practice Lean management effectively. This includes hiring smart, ambitious team members, providing them with the tools they need to succeed, and, most importantly, staying out of their way.
The leader’s role is not to do the work or to micromanage the work; rather, it is to guide teams in prioritizing the right work that will result in the most value for the customer. Going to the Gemba and stopping the line are two techniques that Lean management can use to practice continuous improvement effectively.
Bernard Gagnon Group
The Bernard Gagnon Group team has a vast and varied knowledge pool, making them ideal experts. We specialize in business administration, information systems, management, and authentic transformational leadership.
The Bernard Gagnon Group fosters the autonomy of change agents and managers as they apply Lean Six Sigma concepts, management knowledge, and the principles of individual skills development in the workplace.
Clients also benefit from our team members’ energy, interpersonal skills, availability, and clear communication. Our team members know that the simplest solutions are usually the most effective. We are always there to help and trust in humans’ infinite potential. That’s why sharing knowledge, clearly explaining concepts, and democratizing processes are some of their core values.