Lean management for the unconverted

If you are not yet a convert and lack the time or inclination to devote a month and £4,000+ to qualify as a ‘black-belt’ in the art of lean management, read on.

  • Lean leadership is about getting agreement on a common purpose and the process to achieve it;
  • A lean leader looks after their team members, listens to them and respects them;
  • A lean organisation knows there is always room for improvement;
  • If you do not have one already, install a visual management system so anybody can see at a glance the status of any process and whether it is normal or not;
  • Teach your team to react immediately to any abnormal condition, investigate the causes and solve them;
  • Encourage team members to resolve problems themselves;
  • Rather than discuss issues in the manager’s office, go and see for yourself; get the story first-hand;
  • Investigate any customer complaint quickly and thoroughly to prevent a recurrence;
  • If peaks and troughs in demand cause problems, discuss it with the customer to try and level them out;
  • Measure improvements in terms of time, money, volumes and set up the KPI to do so;
  • Constant small changes soon add up (100 x 1% = 100%);
  • PDCA = Plan, Do, Check, Act (Plan the change, implement it, review it and adjust as necessary);
  • Eliminate any activity that consumes resources without adding value;
  • Eliminate any variation in the operation of a process unless caused by the end customer.

The chances are, you already follow some of these points. The good news is that, taken as a whole, they offer a sound philosophy for running a business. Best of all, none of it is complicated.

Formal qualifications in lean management are a good investment but, even without them, how hard can it be to understand and follow these basics?

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