A major concern expressed is the inability of Lean initiatives to be sustained. The typical scenario is Lean is initiated, significant benefits are derived, then follows a slow decline in results and enthusiasm. Why does this happen?!
The root cause is the failure to recognise that Lean is complex. It impacts multiple levels, comprises a set of skills that need to be progressively implemented in support of achieving business targets.
Lean initiatives tend to be implemented as programs designed to deliver a set of agreed targets. The ability to replicate this process to deliver changing priorities and outcomes is poor. A repeatable Lean process needs to be set in place to supports the delivery of annual business targets.
The key elements of this process could be:
- Defining Lean accountability by work level: Different work levels have different value adding accountabilities that must be specified with expected results.
- Providing Level specific training that is aligned to role accountabilities: Most Lean training is provided during the project with little done by way of updates or refresher programs.
- Benchmarking Lean standards annually: This form of benchmarking will prevent slow dilution of standards, provide ongoing feedback and ensure Lean becomes part of the Culture.
- Providing Lean induction for new employees: This will ensure Lean standards are embedded and reinforced in the workplace over time.
- Designing an annual Lean improvement plan: Design an annual Lean improvement plan that supports the delivery of business targets. This aligns Lean initiatives and skill development with business priorities.
Sustaining Lean initiatives is possible however a repeatable process that supports the delivery of annual targets is required.