Frustrated by Lean?

Frustrated by Lean?

Many, many businesses have had a go at implementing something lean- Managers read books like 'The Goal' or 'LeanThinking' (both excellent) and decide that, say, 5S looks like a popular tool to try out, so they have a go. Many of them achieve some benefit from their efforts too, but we hear many tales of improvements which plateau out or falter after a time, and widespread and sustained change seeming to remain elusive.

If this reflects your experience- read on. Lean Consortium has ways of avoiding these problems, and rejuvenating stalled improvement programmes, maximising results not just by getting things moving again, but by spreading the drive to find 'a better way' throughout the whole company- click here to read more on Whole Company Transformation.

Why things stall.

'Lean' is acknowledged worldwide as being a great way to get your business fit and healthy, but just like trying to get fit yourself, it is simple but not easy. Many businesses that have tried to implement lean have found that success has been significant in some areas and barely visible in others, or that the big strides of the early stages are hard to maintain and sustain. With the wealth of articles, books and consultants out there all eager to help, how can this be? Here's how.

Implementing 'Lean' ways of working in a business involves people changing what they do and how they do it. It involves staff who may have done their job for years suddenly being asked to fix something they don't think is broken. It means imposing disciplines where previously perhaps there were none, and requires people to take on  responsibilities and be accountable for their own actions. Anyone who thinks that changes like that can be made simply by changing an SOP or having a brainstorming meeting will quickly realise the truth, but in doing so the drive for improvements may falter and momentum be lost. Other businesses make strong initial changes but over a period attention is drawn elsewhere and benefits seep away. The key to avoiding these pitfalls is all down to engaging staff, and the leadership you have available to do that.

So clearly, 'a pure technical' solution, like getting a selection of lean tools out of a book and telling your people to use them, is likely only to get you so far. Lean Consortium addresses this problem from a number of angles. (Take a look at our Lean Multiplier page (coming soon) to see more detail and how you can check your own implementation). Lean Consortium is a complete lean programme. To begin with we help you identify clear business goals which you want to achieve- real improvements to your bottom line, quality, delivery performance or capacity which will propel your profitability. Then we look at implementation. About half the time on the programme is spent developing leadership, management, team working and other ‘soft' skills which are key to successful and sustainable lean. Emphasis and support is given to communications and engagement, and we are often told that Lean Leaders are much better supervisors after the course, even discounting their new lean expertise. It may look quicker to stick to the lean stuff when drawing up your plans, but in reality you'd be doing half the job, and getting much less than half the effect. Talk to us first and you'll be getting the benefit of our proven programme structure and results guarantee.

The combination of clear agreed targets providing challenge, new leadership and team skills giving confidence, and lean tools and knowledge providing the 'nuts and bolts' enables the Lean leaders to make rapid progress. Add peer pressure from the other businesses in the consortium, and ongoing reminders and unlimited support form us, and you have a winning recipe.