Lean Management is a whole lot more than a set of tools and methods.
The people and the culture of the company are the foundations of the success of any Lean transformation. Employees at all levels of the organisation have to be trained and empowered to make the important decisions necessary to identify and resolve issues, and continually improve processes and ways of working. They share a culture of responsibility and accountability in an environment supporting teamwork, two-way communication, and personal development.
The leadership has the responsibility of ensuring that Lean Management is part of 'the way we do things around here'. Lean business planning is an integrated process incorporating all functions and all levels of the organisation. Leaders and managers are problem-solvers and teachers, capable of identifying the right issues to be addressed, and of using Lean tools and techniques to support their teams in identifying root causes and implementing sustainable improvements.
Process-thinking and problem-solving are key to Lean success. Products and services are delivered through well-defined ‘value streams’ cutting across functional organisations, and for which responsibility for performance is clear. And problem-solving skills and an understanding of ‘how do I contribute’ have to be integrated into support functions and extended out to key customers and suppliers.
The fact that the Lean Transformation has extended outside of the four walls of the factory, service centre, office, hospital or administration centre (yes, Lean Management is applicable just about everywhere) is all important. Customers and suppliers should be closely integrated into operations, and a spirit of cooperation and confidence exists between all parties.