7 keys to sustain lean

7 keys to sustain lean

Nothing sustains itself, certainly not Lean production or Lean management. So,  act to sustain what you have done by following the processes you have implemented: 

1. Use your standard work to establish or stick with a routine for monitoring your processes and the standard work of others. Remember, standard gives you the most leverage in Lean management.

2. Check the status of visual controls as part of your routine. Insist that those responsible keep them current with accurate and complete entries where reasons are called for. Teach people, over again where necessary, why visual controls are important, where they fit in Lean management, and how they drive action for improvement.

3. Follow up on what you expect in your daily three-tier accountability meetings. Assign tasks to stabilize, diagnose, and improve your area. Follow up on assignments and use visual accountability tools, for example, assignments posted on due dates and coded green for complete, red for overdue. Do not shrink from green/red color-coding.

4. Schedule and stick with regular gemba walks with each subordinate. Stick faithfully to the schedule. Get a feel through asking questions what s/he knows well and what areas need strengthening. Give homework tasks to develop understanding and follow up assignments the next week. Take notes on your gemba walks; expect your students to do likewise. Remember the first purpose of gemba walking it to teach.

5. Everywhere, ask, “What is the process here?” How could someone tell? Is it working? How is it sustained?” Where necessary, note task assignments and gemba walk topics based on the quality of answers.

6. Establish an assessment schedule and a plan to phase it in. Share the detailed assessment categories widely. Post results where they can be seen. Expect to see evidence of improvement activities, such as A-3s, daily task assignments, and other process improvement work to address low-performing categories.

7. Realize you will never be done and take steps to avoid burnout for yourself and others. Organize a regular process for sharing internal best practices so you and your team can recognize the successes you have achieved, even as you gird for work on further improvement.

If you have not started, choose one item from this summary list and begin with it. Practice it, add another, practice both, add a third. With every step, you will find yourself further along your own Lean journey.

Finally, remember what sustains the Lean management system, and ultimately, the Lean culture that grows from it. It is you and the example you set by your disciplined adherence to the system you have put in place.


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