Who needs to make lean work?

Lean Destinations

1. Lean Sponsor
2. Lean Champion
3. Lean Facilitator
4. Team Leader
5. Team Member

Starting Points Explained

Business Manager
Lean complements the existing approaches to business and supports people and organisation development, performance measures (especially customer service) and reduced working capital. Cost reduction comes from the elimination of waste and using ideas from the workforce, rather than from analysis of management accounts or costing systems. A business manager should start by mapping* the business and the supply chain (using Value Stream Mapping*) and then identify the most appropriate improvement projects.

Production Engineer
Lean is a natural extension of production engineering activities such as layout, cells and optimisation. It encourages the use of small project teams and continuous improvement.

Lean encourages involvement, problem solving and team working so people need to have (develop) and be encouraged to use the associated skills. In addition there are specific tools and techniques that help to apply the learning and deliver business benefits. The activity MTa KanDo Lean is a good place to start as it raises individuals' awareness of the key elements of Lean and demonstrates its benefits. Other more specific techniques, like 5S* can help with workplace organisation.

Six Sigma Expert
Many of the Six Sigma tools are shared by Lean thinking - problem solving, data analysis and the quality tools. Whereas Six Sigma focuses on reducing variability, lean focuses on customer service, workflow and the elimination of waste.
Lean projects are less structured and there are few formal qualifications for lean project managers - 'Lean Champions' become 'Effective Lean Champions' through; their enthusiasm, an ability to enthuse others and encourage others to think critically about the way their workplace is organised, their support for change.

Everyone Else
Lean is about working efficiently and effectively so most aspects of Lean are common sense, but sadly not common practice. In some ways approaching lean with an open and mind, uncluttered by 'sophisticated tools and techniques' is the best place to start.

Destinations Explained

Lean Sponsor
There are two key lines of thinking - changing and improving the culture and promoting the right improvement projects. Projects need to deliver benefits but not be too large or too lengthy - pick objectives that are achievable within one or two months by with small teams.
Ensure that there is a good understanding of the lean principles throughout the organisation, top to bottom, but most importantly provide overt support to its effective implementation.

Lean Champion
Understanding of Lean will come with experience of improvement projects. It's not necessary to understand every tool and technique - some are more appropriate for labour-intensive environments and some for capital intensive workplaces. Good starting places include workplace organisation, process mapping* and teamworking.

Lean Facilitator
Facilitation, i.e. enabling others to make best use of their skills, abilities and knowledge, is more compatible with Lean than either consultancy or strict project management. Lean emphasises improvements lead by the workforce and self-directed teams. Many of the team-skills tools are included in the lean toolbox.

Team Leader
Lean is common sense and is compatible with the traditional role of supervisor or departmental manger. Look at the ideas about 'standardised work*', 'takt time*' and workplace organisation. Visual management and control systems are also important.

Team Member
Team members think critically about their working environment and take responsibility to improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of what they do within the business context.


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