Mere Mortal Managers

“Execution” (Page 4 of 5)

Establish the Expectation of Accountability:

You really need to keep your finger on the pulse of your Lean team and how the implementation efforts are going. Conduct weekly meetings to assess progress, support the efforts, and accept action items that only you can complete to facilitate the team’s success. These should often feel like victory parties and provide needed encouragement to your teams. If they aren’t too exciting, and the results aren’t very spectacular, you may need to raise the bar on your expectations. Allowing your team to set their own goals will generally result in the creation of challenging, but attainable stretch goals. Remember you are also accountable as to how you support your teams. Make sure you get feedback in these meetings regarding your performance as well, and make any needed adjustments immediately. It’s that whole learning by example thing. Likewise, you will eventually want to incorporate an individual’s commitment to Lean improvements into your evaluation process for promotions, performance appraisals, and wage reviews. It should become a well-known fact that “Lean Equals Opportunity.”

Keep it Measurable

Don’t be too concerned about measuring every little detail of every process as it is not Lean to do so. It’s largely a waste of time, not to mention frustrating for your teams. What everyone really needs to know is “did we reach our goal?” Whatever the goal is, that is a yes or no question. Don’t over-complicate simple things. We encourage production areas to use small white “status boards” to demonstrate goal attainment. Hourly stats are written in green if they are “at or above goal” and red if they are “below” the stated goal. This makes for a quick visual assessment and sheds light on needed improvements.

Kaizen, Kaizen, Kaizen.

Many “Kaizen” or “Improvement Events” can be conducted at the same time in most companies. Generally, selecting 6 to 10 people from the area you are improving and its internal customer/supplier operations, works very well without putting too much strain on your manufacturing system. Keep kaizen teams going in all facets of your operation, from maintenance to office functions. If your company is hurting for cash, focus your Kaizens on inventory reduction. (By the way, this is a great way to fund all of your Lean efforts). If you need greater capacity, focus Kaizens on your major constraint(s). If you need more workspace, focus on creating work cells, streamlining processes, and so on. Unless you run a very small company, currently have extreme demands on your workforce, or absolutely cannot keep up with customer demand after all you can do, you should have at least one Kaizen going on at all times once you begin your Lean journey. If a continuous Kaizen mode is far too taxing on your system, we encourage you to commit to an “every other week” or “one week a month” Kaizen schedule as bare minimums. Support this effort religiously and broadcast achievements broadly.