Changing organization culture is a key approach to overcoming barriers to performance improvement. But how do you change culture? One key element is performance measurement. “What gets measured, gets done!” And if we want to get Lean, we need to use performance measures that promote Lean behavior.
So if measurement motivates, we need to measure the things we want to change. In a traditional “push” plant, we measured output and efficiency by department and machine. The goal was to keep people and machines busy and these measures made that the focus. In retrospect, it’s not surprising that we built up piles of inventory between departments, and extended our total production leadtime, i.e., the time from first operation to last operation.
In a Lean plant we want value to flow. We want leadtimes to be as short as possible. How can we drive that change? Measure leadtimes and show the results to those who can make it happen. Similarly, if changeover times need to be reduced, measure them and feed back the results on a team information board.
“Feedback is the Breakfast of Champions!”
If we want to succeed on our Lean journey, the feedback must support the change. Therefore, discard old measures that encourage sub-optimizing behavior, and replace them with good Lean measures that drive the flow of value to the customer.