As a person helping others implement lean, there is no better feeling than knowing things have been sustained and benefits gained.

I recently had a walk through with a team I have been working with for 10 months.  The most rewarding part of the walk was seeing that 90% of the things we have talked about and the team implemented has not faltered. 5S to daily metrics to visual management.  It all has sustained.

What is different about here vs other places I have been?

1. The leadership commitment.  The managers have been involved and leading the effort.  Not supporting the effort.  This does not mean they are making all the decisions and doing all the work.  They are getting people involved and auditing to make sure the improvements are sticking.

2. Leadership is involving the employees.  Leadership is asking what improvements the employees need and what they feel is most important.  Then clearing a path so the employees can help make those improvements.  Showing the employees their ideas and thoughts do matter.

3. Leadership is hungry to learn and improve.  The leadership wants to understand more and learn themselves.  They do not think lean is for “someone else to do.”

It sounds simple, but if it was everyone would be doing it and doing it well.

How are you sustaining your lean improvements?

Posted on October 30, 2014, in Improvement, Leadership and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Matt, Very well written. Most of us in big companies have the “I support Lean” (When i’m not busy) type of management.

  2. As we have heard over and over again, Leadership involvement is one of the critical requirements for a company to continue on the Lean journey. In our company, the projects that have the most support and follow up from management are the ones which initially succeed and then are able to keep from falling back to the old way long-term. It is always exciting when improvements “stick”. Thank you for sharing your success.

  3. Hi Matt

    Recently I toured a Toyota plant, The company you are working with sounds like they have gotten it just like Toyota has. What I saw in Toyota may surprise some they do not follow all Lean concept, but what they use is implemented and in fact becomes just part of the job. Good 5S in that plant is visible every where as is visual management, but it is all applied in such a way that one if something isn’t right it is seen instantly, and it being out of place is what creates a problem. When parts and tools are placed according to the needs of the actual workers it takes little effort to keep it up.

    All to often you see attempt at 5S that were dictated, and implemented by people other than those doing the work, those attempts are guaranteed to fail because you force workers trying to do a good job to work around the 5S instead of it aiding them in doing a good job. True 5S and for that matter any true Lean improvement has to work to the advantage of the people working in the process so they can do their jobs with the least effort, so they can than focus on other issues like making sure quality gets built in.

  4. Generally speaking if you want improvements to take hold and people to actually get involved and excited about creating improvement it has to work to their benefit not just the organizations. It is after all simple human nature, and if you follow the true basics of Toyota’s production system you are always taking advantage of everyone’s basic human nature, and if you hire good people they want to do a good job, all you have to do is allow them and help them do better. The only time you experience a fight is when the gains are totally one-sided and done for nothing other than to make a few extra dollars, and those usually end up cost you more than what the gain would be.

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