021 212 6580 Hannah Reed         Public course calendar

Six essential skills for lean leaders

by Chris Reed

11 07, 2019 | Posted in Good reads | 0 comments

Six Essential Skills for Lean leadership – Questions?

  1. What sort of direction should you provide for your lean programme or is it largely ‘bottom-up’?
  2. What’s the main role of a lean leader?
  3. Go to the Gemba (workplace) – but what do you do when you get there?
  4. One of the lean principles is to ‘engage and empower’ your employees – how would you do that?
  5. What one lean discipline should you instil in others?
  6. Is it worth learning about lean? Surely how the tools and roadmaps work can be delegated to practitioners?

Six Essential Skills for Lean leadership – Answers?

  1. What sort of direction should you provide for your lean programme – help to determine what ‘True North’ is with your leadership team and use this for the guiding direction for the programme. Primary focus in a lean organisation is the horizontal flow of value. Set clear targets aligned to the business plan and then help your teams take small steps to get there (Plan Do Check Act)

True North example

Where does your organisation want to be in 3-5 years time?

What will it look, feel like?

Core  values, principles

Eg for a Health Care organisation

‘the patient first and foremost’
  • What’s the main role of a lean leader? Be a champion and sponsor of lean and change and check that the lean process is effective (working on the right things).
    • Every lean organisation must address
      • Purpose – provide value to customers
      • Process – smoothly flowing value streams
      • People – engaging every employee touching those value streams to eliminate waste and sustain/improve flow
    • Expect and seek value for money from lean initiatives makes obvious business sense so a lean leader should become an advocate for all key improvement projects that are eliminating waste and improving flow on key customer value streams in the business.
  • Go to the Gemba (workplace where value is added and/or where there is customer contact) – Go see, ask why and show respect! Go and observe and discuss the facts. Go and See is the entry ticket into lean management. The concept is to be on the field not at your computer looking at the statistics of the last few games.The purpose of a gemba walk is simple: to see and understand how more value can be created with less waste. A lean leader should also ask the critical question ‘is this a key value stream and what should it provide for our customers?’ before diving in to fix it! Show respect not by saying ‘we trust them to do a good job’ but by asking what problems do they have, deeply understand their issues and discuss potential countermeasures.
  • People must be engaged and empowered in understanding and improving the key processes that create value desired by the customer if organisational and customer purposes are to be achieved.  ‘Engaging and empowering’ your employees – can be achieved by leaders by
    • Providing the challenge for personal achievement
    • Building on people’s ideas
    •  Establishing mutual trust and respect.
    • Listen, share thoughts, feelings and rationale
    • Asking for help
    • Providing support  (make decisions they can’t) without removing the responsibility for action
    • Being fair about pay and benefits
    • Meaningful work and variety in assignments aligned to a common purpose
    • Providing a sense of community
    • Allowing an authority to commit
    • Creating an ability to measure own performance
    • Allowing participation in decisions
  • What one lean discipline should you instil in others?  Change the mindsets and behaviours to focus on the ‘what’ not the ‘who’. This single switch will help move the organisation to developing a problem solving culture. This single move will help to seek out root cause rather that just stop at a symptom or higher level issue.
  • Learn about lean?  Your curiosity about lean will become infectious. You can contribute to the programme not by becoming necessarily a subject matter expert in say lean tools (although you need to commit to self development to learn to live by the True North values) but in many other ways such as; using your network for best practise site visits, channel new lean ideas into the company by which you can make a massive contribution.  The job as a leader is not to come up with the right solutions but to put staff on the right path so they can solve their own problems with their own knowledge and experience.

In summary

  1. Create a ‘True North’ vision
  2. Ask are we working on the key value streams for our customers?
  3. Go See, Ask why?, show respect
  4. Help engage and empower employees
  5. Focus on ‘what’ not ‘who’
  6. Commit to learning about lean

References for Lean Leadership

  1. ‘Creating a Lean Culture’ by David Mann ISBN 978-1-4398-1141-2
  2. ‘The Lean Manager’ by M.Balle and F.Balle
  3. ‘Irresistible Change Guide’ by Heather Stagl. www.enclaria.com
  4. ‘Gemba Walks’ by James Womack ISBN 978-1-934109-30-4
  5. ‘The lightning of empowerment’ by William C Byham ISBN 0449 00282-9
  6. Toyota Kata by Mike Rother ISBN 978-0-07-163523-3
  7. ‘Toyota way to lean leadership’ by Jeff Liker July 2013 [STUDENTS NOTES – WWW.TOYOTAWAYTOLEANLEADERSHIP.COM]
  8. Practice seeing to be a better lean leader by Karyn Ross in Lean Leadership Ways 19 Jun 2014 http://www.industryweek.com/blog/practice-seeing-be-better-lean-leader
  9. Improve people first by Karyn Ross 31 Jan 2014  http://www.industryweek.com/blog/improve-people-first

Researched by

Chris Reed, Director and Master Black Belt , Lean6Sigma Ltd . www.lean6sigma.co.nz

Comments are closed.