How to deploy lean in your business. Method, examples and results.
Deploying lean in an enterprise or one of its business units is a fascinating journey. The enterprise reaps the benefits of its improved image: a more generous profit margin and increased sales.
Workers increase their knowledge and skills, while acquiring a real desire to be proactive in improving the team’s productivity. This attitude leads to better process design and better support tools. The team becomes highly reliable in providing services, reducing the frequency of incidents and associated costs.
But as tempting as these results are, the effort demanded is equally large. The enterprise must change its attitude towards its operational teams by:
- Recognizing that the teams are a source of value creation for clients and shareholders, so deserve the full attention of management.
- Accepting the idea that employees, being experts in their domain, are ideally suited to guide a program of continuous improvement. Therefore, the company should grant teams enough time to think, plan, and enact their ideas.
- Asking other units to actively support the operational teams’ improvement efforts, rather than isolating them or simply trying not to interfere.
Operae Partners commands a wealth of experience deploying lean in large organizations. Our practice rests on the following principles:
- Getting board members and middle managers engaged in the lean initiative
- Building lean expertise inside the company
- Obtaining rapid and significant results
Getting board members and middle managers engaged in the lean initiative
Operae Partners helps upper and middle managers to:
- Understand what benefits they can expect from deploying lean
- Find the right words to communicate their expectations to employees
- Identify potential avenues of improvement, and develop the habit of self-examination to find reasons why the enterprise is not performing as well as it could
- Acquire the necessary attitude to achieve the expected results.
The involvement of the executive committee grows stronger as a lean deployment progresses. Their support is the wellspring of a mobilization toward continuous improvement throughout the hierarchy.
Operae Partners intervenes at all levels of the business to transfer the skills and attitudes necessary to practice lean. Its lean deployment strategy is designed to:
- Foster a spirit of collective awareness and action
- Demonstrate the benefits of lean right away, in a limited number of supervised projects,
- Transform the business culture gradually, by deploying lean one team at a time.
Every coach at Operae Partners supports this program with two core competencies: intimate knowledge of the economic and managerial models driving the enterprise, and recognized expertise in the theory and practice of deploying lean in the service industry. All our coaches have practiced lean exclusively for several years.
Building lean expertise inside the company
- A change leader. This person knows the enterprise backwards and forwards, is respected by management, is determined, and is personally committed to the success of the lean approach. He is capable of identifying a transformation model that will guide the operational improvements made by teams towards economic results, and will get personally involved to make this happen.
- One to three lean coaches, depending on the size of the project management team. A lean coach is equally at ease sharing knowledge with an operational team in the field, or explaining the team’s decisions and their context to the manager sponsoring their transition. Their principal mission is to train the lean project managers.
- Lean project managers. These work with teams in the field to guide them through the lean approach. They know the method, know how to lead a project, and are comfortable with the work being done by the team. Their mission is to teach the team leaders how to identify pertinent improvements and obtain operational results over the long term.
Although the three profiles are distinct, each member of the internal lean team must share the same desire to learn and the courage to progress by questioning ingrained assumptions and deeply held beliefs. Operae Partners has wide experience in transferring lean skills and attitudes to the internal team in charge of deploying lean throughout a business. We know that our coaches are excellent, because our clients obtain large-scale results with little intervention on our part. In practice, our coaches regularly assess the level of skill attained by the internal team, and define appropriate challenges to encourage everyone to continue their apprenticeship in lean. They explain and demonstrate lean practices with benevolence, propose a rigorous framework of observation and analysis for problem-solving, and give teams ample leeway to identify and implement effective paths of improvement.
Obtaining rapid and significant results
When it decides to deploy lean, an enterprise expects impressive results. Operae Partners helps its clients achieve these results:
In just a few days, we can identify the scope of activity with a real potential for improvement, and evaluate the levels of performance attainable by projects. In this way, we can supply the enterprise with a steady stream of new projects suitable for lean deployment.
We are experts in deploying lean in the service and information technology industries. We immediately recognize ideas that are intellectually tempting but ineffective in practice, nipping them in the bud before the client wastes time implementing them. Our rigorous approach is based on our practical experience coaching hundreds of improvement projects, on professional exchanges with other lean communities working in the IT and service industries since 2007, and on established methodologies for the observation, analysis and guidance of projects.
We teach our clients to tackle very short projects, only about three months long, which nonetheless deliver exceptional results. The milestones are clear and we have developed best practices for leading projects, making it easy for the client to deploy lean on a grand scale.