The first step on the LEAN journey is the organization realizing that there are clear, compelling and urgent reasons to change. In a world where we cannot do more with less because we are stretched far too thin already, we realize that we must start to work smarter. We need to examine our processes, and eliminate waste and streamline operations. How can this be possible? Studies have shown that typically, waste represents 30% of our gross revenue. We must shift our focus on eliminating this waste.
In order for this to succeed, cross functional leadership must visibly and proactively lead the organization through the change process. The right leaders need to work together to develop a vision of what the organization needs to become, develop a strategy for getting there and implementing that strategy. In the implementation of the strategy, the organization will begin to change. The leaders must continuously model and communicate the new vision, strategy and hold the organization accountable for implementing that strategy. Barriers to making the necessary improvements must be broken down.
Leadership must engage and empower people closest to the problem to identify those problems, develop, plan and implement the solutions. The people closest to the problem are aware of the problem and have the solutions. Problem solving must be done on the unit floor, not in a boardroom.
Leadership must help everyone understand the connection between their improvement activities and the new vision for the organization. These new behaviors must become “the way we do business around here.”