Companies Trying to Target Customer Focus and Alignment

This is part of my reflections from the OpsInsight Forum in Boston.

There were some great keynote speakers at the OpsInsight Forum.  The topics ranged from execution excellence to optimized S&OP process to transforming innovation.

What causes me to be optimistic about the potential success of lean progressing through companies is that almost all of them were talking about lean concepts, ideas, and thinking without knowing it.

In my opinion, the work does not have to be called out as being lean.  The most important part is the thinking and concepts becoming part of the company’s DNA.

The two concepts that were repeated over and over were focusing on the customer and the company being aligned to the work to deliver value.

Focusing on the customer.  This is the root of lean.  The very first seed that is planted.  The main focus is the customer or consumer that buys the product.  If what you are doing is not adding value for them we should ask, “Can we eliminate it?”  If not, then “Can we reduce it?”

In order to be the most effective in delivering value to the customer, everyone must be aligned.  Over half of the speakers brought up the issue of having everyone aligned to the business goals and clarity around the work that was needed to achieve those goals.  A few speakers specifically called out strategy deployment tool that could be used.  Others didn’t call out strategy deployment but talked about the catch ball process.  This is the process where Level 1 managers talk with Level 2 managers about how they can help achieve the goals and then Level 2 meets with Level 3 and so on and so forth.  The discussions go down and the back up the levels a few times to develop a comprehensive and achievable plan.

All of the speakers mentioned that lean was a way to support the work and help make it better.  These comments add data to my data set that lean still isn’t truly understood for what it is very widely still.  The good news is that people are trying to implement lean thinking and concepts.  They just don’t realize it.  That gives me optimism as I continue to implement lean thinking at the company I work for.

Look for areas where lean thinking is being implemented.  Don’t try to change the language.  Instead try to foster the thinking and help it grow.

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Posted on May 9, 2011, in Customer Focus, Leadership, Tools and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Matt, nice summary. I agree that the main focus should always be the customer in everything we do. I often find myself reminding those that I work with of this. Also, just as you do, I strive to keep our team on track with our lean implementation. It takes a lot of patience waiting for the team to finally come around, but I find if I am consistent with the message, sooner or later they get it.

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