Lean, lean manufacturing, the Toyota Production System, Kaizen are terms that are often used synonymously. They refer to the systematic removal of waste in a set of processes. I am not a lean expert and I struggle sometimes to understand precisely what constitutes waste but I am sill loving lean.
I love the outputs of lean. I love what it does and how it does it. Lean is based on win win partnerships and is founded on three basic principles.
As a business coach all three of those principles resonate deeply with my own methods and motivation.
Respect for people refers to the principle that the people who are best placed to solve any situation are the people closest to that situation. As Nancy Kline once wrote, “Usually the brain that contains the problem also contains the solution”. The role of the coach is to help people find their own solutions to problems. The role of the lean leader is to do exactly the same thing. For lean to work it depends upon a culture which believes in our ability to find our own better ways.
Continuous improvement is my mantra as a business coach. I grow the business leader to grow the business. The symbol I use is a never ending spiral that always spirals upwards. It is based upon the philosophy of always being better today than we were yesterday.
Removal of waste results in giving the customer what they want, when where and how they want it at a price they are willing to pay. In other words it creates value.
But probably for me the most uplifting thing about a lean organisation is the way the team have to be engaged in order to reap the benefits.
I came across this video recently. Take some time to watch at least some of it. It doesn’t matter whether the business resembles yours or not. Ask yourself whether your team would ever have come up with the innovations that this team have come up with, whether your team are as actively involved and engaged as this team is.
Imagine if they were, how different, how much more fulfilling and how much more fun your business could be to work in.
Lean may not be on your horizons right now but I will bet the outputs are.