Successfully conduct your Lean Management approach

N°227b – Synopsis (8p.) – Continuous Improvement
Successfully conduct your Lean Management approach
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Adopting a Lean Management approach bestows a major competitive edge to some companies… and brings disillusionment to other ones! What are the key drivers to instill the Lean approach successfully?

Lean Management produces both disappointed naysayers and ardent supporters. Everyone seems to have a clear-cut opinion about this approach. Rarely has a management issue aroused such passionate debate! But let’s get back to basics: the point of Lean Management is to continuously improve efficiency and performance, based on a systemic vision of organizations. Originally deployed at Toyota some forty years ago, Lean progressively spread from the production line to the general and intellectual service sectors. The methodology has become more consistent and robust over the years.

Outcomes, however, are inconsistent between organizations, generating highly divergent opinions. Sometimes the method is abandoned after just a few months, given the disappointing results with respect to the major resources engaged. Some Lean programs, on the other hand, breathe new life into a company by giving it a real competitive advantage. Successful Lean Management is indeed synonymous with higher quality, reduced costs and more motivated employees.

How can an approach as standardized and rigorous as Lean Management possibly fail to produce the expected results? Japanese automakers who tried to copy Toyota rapidly perceived that it wasn’t enough to duplicate the methods and tools deployed by their neighbor. Indeed, it is misleading to look no further than the required set of tools. In practice, Lean Management actually implies a profound cultural transformation which must be conducted over a long period of time. However, Lean Management is frequently approached like a one-shot cost-cutting project. Such approaches may certainly produce results, but these results are seldom sustainable and often generate significant stress in the workforce.

The most successful Lean Management approaches are undertaken as long-term ventures which never really come to an end. Rather than implementing a project, the point is to inculcate a mindset in which operational excellence is sought continuously within the context of the greater organizational vision.

In this synopsis:
- Basic principles of Lean Management
- Instill Lean Management over time
- Identify major sources of waste


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