Mere Mortal Managers

A series of three articles designed to help managers effectively lead the transformation to Lean Manufacturing and World Class Excellence.

This is the second in a series of three articles written especially for managers leading the transition to Lean Manufacturing. The first article, Self-Correction discusses how to recover from past management shortcomings and the qualities of managers who have successfully lead their companies through a Lean transformation. This second article, Preparation, discusses needed preparations before beginning your Lean process. The last article in the series, Execution, provides further practical advice and time saving tips to ensure a smooth and efficient transition to Lean and World Class Excellence.

Effectively Leading Your Lean Manufacturing Transformation

There is never a “good time” to begin your Lean Journey. Often we hear managers tell us “well, as soon as we do this, that, or the other we will begin Lean.” This is defeatist thinking. Now is as good a time as any other to begin saving money and becoming more efficient through Lean. No doubt you have dozens of projects, deadlines, and demands on your time, but it is a bit like taking the time to put gas and oil in your car. You need both all of the time. Without gas you stop going forward and without oil you’ll ruin your engine. Lean improvements give you what you need now and in the future to keep your business running at least side by side with your competitors, if not ahead of them. Without Lean you will eventually fall so far behind that there may be no way to re-enter the race. This is a fact of global competition. The entire world is going Lean. You must do it very soon. You must do it better than your competitors. And then you must go beyond Lean. (Going beyond Lean is a subject for another day.)

What that means in real terms is that you must commit to the following practices and traits before, during and after you begin your Lean journey. Committing to these practices before you officially begin your Lean transformation will set a distinct standard and build confidence in your leadership throughout the process.