Leadership and Lean Management are sometimes viewed as strange bedfellows. On one hand there is the clinical efficiency of Lean, whilst on the other there is the warm, fuzzy world of motivation and the need to inspire others. In this article, Chris McCann explores the need for Lean in modern business and highlights some of the many shared reference points between it and effective leadership.
In today’s difficult economic climate and the times of austerity that we live in, there are constant references to “Lean” by politicians and the media which are unfortunately, not always accurate. In most peoples eyes “Lean = Job Losses”, which can create a fear culture and a significant barrier to change when an organisation embarks on a continuous improvement journey. So what really is Lean and when and where can it make a difference?
Lean and Six Sigma thinking have been around for a very long time with first recorded evidence from around 1860 with Eli Whitney recording methods relating to interchangeable parts in his process for manufacturing guns for the American Civil War. The principles have probably existed through history since they are about common sense and simplicity, but this is the earliest recording of it as a methodology which can be applied to deliver breakthrough performance in organisations. He was so successful he actually supplied the guns to both armies during that war!
Its roots and early focus areas were very much within the manufacturing world – but in last 10 years there has been broad recognition that it applies to all sectors and some of the leading exponents of Lean Thinking can currently be found within the service sector in financial services, utilities and communications sectors. The fact that these methods have stood the test of time and are currently being applied in all areas of the economy, demonstrate their value in delivering significant and sustainable improvements to business results.
The over-riding reason why everyone should consider using Lean Six Sigma methods is the fact that it helps organizations and teams deliver significant and sustained improvements in business results. It truly delivers breakthrough performance.
There are many aspects to Lean Six Sigma but the methods are built from basic principles
“The starting point for any improvement activity is to recognize the need” Masaaki Imai, founder of the Kaizen Institute, Japan
This is the mind-set required to embark on a Lean Six Sigma journey. It is commonly referred to as a journey on which you never actually reach the final destination. It is never about arrogance or complacency. It is about an attitude and discipline to strive for that next improvement or to squeeze even more value out of your product/process/service for your customers
In support of these principles there are many tools and methods which can be applied, including:
The fascinating and stimulating thing about working on Lean Six Sigma is that there is no set way of doing it! The approach, the focus areas and the tools required should always be tailored to the particular needs of the organization and the opportunities for improvement that have been identified. So if you want breakthrough performance for your organization – but don’t know where to start, don’t worry. You have already made that first significant step by recognizing that there is a need to improve. We at Leadership Factory would be happy to come and talk to you and identify where is the best starting point for your personal journey leading to significant improvement in your competitiveness which will drive growth in your sales and profits into the future.
For further information about article or Lean please contact email@example.com