The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Upholding our company philosophy of being completely open and transparent, whilst operating in a sector renowned for being overly complex to the point of confusing, we are applying an over-arching look at the key reasons behind Lean Management success or failure, in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
With an average career in delivering lean management into large firms throughout the world of 25 years +, our team here are unanimous about the fundamental basis for success when implementing the inevitable changes throughout an organisation that a sustainable lean programme will need: the buy in of your people.
To put it succinctly, there is one core element needed to create the possibility of a lean specialist helping to deliver increased margins: the identification of a credible Value Stream(s).
There are two core elements needed however to have a certainty of delivering it: the Value Stream and secondly, the ability to engage and empower the key management team, so that the required process and cultural changes are embraced and sustainable.
Lean can surely only be classed as Good, when it's sustainable. And an organisation can only sustain new Value Streams if they are focussed on a culture of continuous improvement.
At Value Stream Experts, we only partner with organisations that have bought into this point....Rolls Royce, BAE and the NHS have done just that. Our principles are such that 'Good' is the actually the worst adjective you'll ever use about our services. We are not tactical agents happy to deliver a short term uplift...there's plenty of those around. We agree the targets and we deliver. And our legacy, through the careful on boarding, engaging and development of your senior staff, will underpin a new culture of continuous improvement, long after we've gone. That's 'Good'...in fact, that's 'Very Good', even if we say so ourselves.
Could easily have been termed, 'The Norm'.
Time and time again, we are brought into sceptical organisations, burned by recent interactions with third party lean consultants, where the results have been 'Ok but have dropped off somewhat since'.
If lean practices can have a positive effect on an organisation (and 99.9% of organisations at some point can be classed firmly in that camp), then by definition, there is waste. It could be in time, resource, process, geographic, operational interactions etc but there is a legacy of waste.
And that is a legacy of waste, with human beings operating day in day out doing what they do...yes you can put a new piece of software in here, remove two heads there, improve communications into xyz department but in the same way a line of ants will go back to precisely the same tasks they were doing before you blocked them with an obstacle as a child, human beings will go back to doing what they felt comfortable with, as soon as the opportunity arises.
UNLESS, you are lucky enough to be operating either with internal or external lean practitioners skilled in the management of people, to evolve a new lean, sustainable culture and intolerance of waste. Too often, we see that is not the case and Lean whilst always having a positive short-term effect on margin, simply hasn't been managed properly and thus the investment into it, soon becomes a cost.
The Ugly is an extrapolated version of The Bad, normally in very large organisations. Again, time and again we've seen this happen. Huge lean management and change programmes have been signed off at enormous expense but without the necessary people skills to fully engage and interactions with key employees.
The organisation often experiences the misleading short term effects of value streams being developed and a lower cost scenario shot in the arm. Concurrently, the complex, often multi-departmental operational change is starting to come apart at the seams, as key stakeholders and middle management have not been fully integrated or engaged in the changes afoot and resistance takes hold.
Plowing ahead, still with the short term gains ringing in the ears of those under pressure to deliver given they instigated the entire lean programme, the changes keep coming and the resistance gets stronger....costs spiral, efficiency in areas that weren't issues within the initial scoping exercise are springing up everywhere and employee satisfaction starts becoming an issue.
In the Ugly scenario, Lean Management becomes a cursed term. A cost and one that has left the organisation in a far worse place than before the changes began.
Believe it or not, with very careful people management, complete clarity on communications and patience, it is possible to turn around such a scenario outlined above and develop a culture of continuous improvement...but you don't want to have to find that out if you can help it!
Should you have any questions on the points raised here or on how our services could potentially help your organisation, please either email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0207 412 8995 and we'd be delighted to chat.