Five Simple Ways Leaders Can Support Lean Activities

As we are all aware, the success of your Lean innovation depends upon support from leadership and how you engage the workforce.  As leaders in the organization, there are five simple ways you can support the Lean activities happening in your company.


1.  Become a project sponsor

Are there processes within your department or business that you would love to see improved?  Sponsor a Rapid Improvement Event in an area under your leadership.  Schedule your project on the quarterly Lean Game Plan.

Agree to be the project sponsor.  Partner with the event leader to develop the project charter.  This will let your employees know that you are interested in their approach to making improvements in your part of the business and that you are sponsoring the improvement activity.

2.  Take part in a Rapid Improvement Event

Most Rapid Improvement Events are multiple days long.  Choose a day to attend and observe the activities.  Clear your calendar for half of a day and be an active participant without having decision making influence.

Realize that participants may be nervous by your attendance, so choose your involvement wisely.  Hopefully, the improvement team is using a “no-rank” model of decision making where everyone in the event is equal.

3.  Attend Rapid Improvement Event report outs

When participants have spent several long days making improvements to a part of the business, nothing is more demoralizing than not having support when they conduct a report-out.  They are excited to share with leadership what they have accomplished.  At one company I consulted with these are sacred.  The company videos the report outs in case someone on the leadership team is traveling.

In this example, employees know that if the Vice President of Operations isn’t in the room, he will watch the recording of the report out.  They know he follows up with team members upon his return.  This goes a long way in sending the message you value your employees’ hard work and ideas.

4.  Thank participants

While this may seem obvious, it is surprising how many times I have seen teams present information at the report out, and don’t get thanked for their efforts. Please, as leaders thank the team members for their efforts.

A simple thank you goes a long way with employees and helps increase employee engagement.  They have worked hard to improve your business, thank them!  Without them, your company will not grow or improve.

5.  Follow Leader Standard Work

One of the best tools for sustaining Lean efforts is Leader Standard Work. While often associated with supervisor level employees, management should also follow it daily.

It provides an opportunity for you to become more consistent in your daily activities and shows that you are using the same methodologies as you are asking others to use.  Your Leader Standard Work will differ from an operator or supervisor, but make sure you use and follow the same framework.

These five simple steps will show that you are a supporter of Lean activities, support employee engagement and drive culture change in the company.

As always, it is an honor to serve you and I hope that you and your company are getting better every day!

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