About Everyday Lean
Everyday Lean is founded on the principle that Lean organisations have a culture of improvement that everyone is part of and practises every day. You approach market leading capability step by step — a little better every day. But doing it every day, relentlessly.
This doesn’t mean that if you have large problems, you shouldn’t fix them, but fixing those large problems will be easier in the context of improvement activity happening every day, operated by everyone.
What is important is having all the elements together as a system. It must be practiced every day in a very consistent manner—not in spurts.
Mr. Cho, president of Toyota, quoted in the preface to The Toyota Way
Effective Improvement isn’t difficult, but it’s like a physical skill. It takes frequent practise over time to generate the instincts of an effective problem-solver. And like many physical skills, there are often bad habits to unlearn as part of the process. And you need this to be effective in solving the really hard problems. After all, you wouldn’t try to perform the Grieg Piano Concerto after your first lesson, would you?
The Everyday Lean model generates opportunities to learn improvement and practise it by identifying real opportunities for improvement at all scales. Because it’s based at the workplace and carried out by the same people whose work is being improved, you have the leading SMEs already on the case without getting in the way of their day-jobs.
No-one stays on the sidelines in the quest to discover how to improve the daily work.
Effective, People-Centred Leadership
While Lean should always and can only start from
where we are now, becoming a truly Lean organisation requires new habits, new skills and new culture. It’s a fundamentally transformational role, very different from ‘management’ and certainly very different from ‘management as often practised.’
Lean Leadership is about building a culture that develops problem-solvers, that trusts the smart adults you have employed to know what ‘better’ looks like and what’s currently in the way, and teaches them how to effectively remove it. Where is this going to come from if not from the top?
Implementing Lean in knowledgework always starts at the micro level, and from where you are now, deeply understanding the current state. Everyday Lean is built on three interlocking light touch tools that feed each other in a virtuous circle, and can be introduced in a few days, usually without the disruption of large-scale reinvention as a precondition.
Hoshin Kanri is the Lean method for ensuring that all improvements are directed towards the same strategic goal, that they reinforce each other rather than compete. In Hoshin, we set a True North objective for the widest possible scope of organise, and decompose it so that every improvement can be traced back to the objective, and — like Kennedy’s Moon-focused Janitor — everyone has a shared sense of mission.
That way, when improvements are employee-led, you can be sure they will contribute towards the strategy, rather than being whatever is most painful today. You move out of firefighting to making a real impact on the way you operate.
Knowledge-work organisations employ smart people. But the biggest waste they face is not effectively using all that smart and all that experience to improve the work itself.
A3 Thinking is a structured, empirical method that any knowledge-worker can use to diagnose problems (or take advantage of opportunities for improvement), and drive them through to resolution.
Lean Principles call for pull based processes that flow value to customers. But how do you make a process flow in knowledgework? How do spot when invisible knowledge is accumulating? How do you spot a tactical process issue, or a systemic one?
Kanban is a powerful method for operationalising Lean and providing the raw material to feed improvement methods.