|Management time used effectively translates into accelerated performance results. Daniel T. Jones, Senior Advisor at the Lean Enterprise Academy, calls it “results-driven lean” where top management identifies performance gaps and then focuses everyone’s attention on a few key strategic projects that would make the biggest difference to performance results. A lean evidence-based, planning and problem-solving method is used to create visual action plans that are reviewed and updated at daily stand-up meetings. This visual approach also defines an effective operational framework for cross-functional cooperation.|
With results-driven lean, organizations resolve clearly defined problems with an evidence-based plan to achieve measurable value stream performance results that translate into money — cash freed up, falling unit costs, capital expenditure saved, and growing sales and margins from fulfilled customers, etc.
Ideally, instead of pursuing several hundred projects, your organization focuses everyone’s efforts on the three to five key strategic projects that would make the biggest difference to its performance. At this stage, the top team identifies the size of the performance gaps that need to be closed to meet the objectives.
Walking and identifying the processes or value streams responsible for these gaps shows the root causes and opportunities for eliminating wasted time and effort, particularly between departments. Someone is given the responsibility of improving these value streams by gaining fact-based agreement on what needs to be done. Each department comes up with what it could contribute after discussing the resources required. All potential conflicts between departmental objectives and value stream needs are addressed in a receptive manner.
With results-driven lean, organizations resolve clearly defined problems with an evidence-based plan to achieve measurable value stream performance results that translate into money.
Everyone uses the same evidence-based, scientific method to create their own A3 plans and an overall A3 action plan to improve each value stream when closing every performance gap. They agree to replace the several hundred performance metrics with a vital few. These plans are built around a visual wall updated in real time. Daily 30-minute stand-up review meetings are held at this visual wall to discuss immediate actions on deviations. This replaces tedious monthly review meetings trying to justify why things hadn’t gone to plan way after the fact.
This visual approach also defines an effective operational framework for cross-functional cooperation. Focusing on improving the end-to-end processes of value creation can also help to restore the balance so that over-powerful functions and departments no longer pursue their own objectives — a major obstacle to change.
Top management sets the example for the rest of the organization. This adds credibility and also means they’re in a position to mentor the next level down in evidence-based planning and problem-solving by asking questions to teach them how to think, rather than telling them what to do.
If lean results are to be sustained, lean evidence-based management should transform how managers spend their time at work in the same way as lean has transformed work on the shop floor.
If lean results are to be sustained, lean evidence-based management should transform how managers spend their time at work in the same way as lean has transformed work on the shop floor. Tesco’s initial lean supply chain work used evidence-based management successfully more than a decade ago.
In conclusion, the most damaging form of waste isn’t on the shop floor; it’s the waste of management time. The fraction of management time that actually results in improvements is dwarfed by the time they spend fighting fires. But, as on the shop floor, these well-intentioned people are trapped in broken and dysfunctional management processes that drive them to do the wrong things.
Insights needed to take lean into the executive office don’t come from boot camps on lean tools for executives nor from the lean practice in production and operations. The more promising route is building on the experience with lean in managing projects in the engineering office; which is much closer to the day-to-day managing of all kinds of projects in the executive office.
Lean provides the scientific basis for working together more effectively — whether on the shop floor, in the engineering department or the executive office.
I see lean thinking and the Toyota example as the next step in our long journey of using the evidence-based scientific method to improve social organizations. Alfred Sloan used scientific methods to create strong functions for command and control. In my view, lean provides the scientific basis for working together more effectively — whether on the shop floor, in the engineering department or the executive office.
|Daniel T. Jones helped establish the Lean Global Network of 18 nonprofit institutes around the world, as well as the Lean Enterprise Academy in the UK where he is now a Senior Adviser. He is the co-author of The Lean Strategy, Lean Solutions, Lean thinking and The Machine that Changed the World. Daniel inspires, encourages and mentors executives to use lean thinking to solve their business problems, and leads many proof of concept projects in pioneering organizations.|
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