Lean thinking is a great business system, but its approach requires support and commitment for organizations. Lean provides a framework to improve the flow of a process, it is therefore important to create a plan or roadmap describing the improved flow, highlighting changes, and areas for improvement.
Roadmaps are handy little things, helping to point the direction while on a journey. Sometimes they serve to identify markers on the road letting us know how far along we are, or telling us how far to go to the next marker.
There are 5 steps for creating a Lean implementation roadmap for your journey:
1. Vision, Goals, and Objectives
The first place to start this process is with the senior leadership. What is our vision for the organization in the next few years? What are the biggest issues facing the organization today that prevent us from achieving this vision? Define the organization's true north - the business needs that must be achieved. These will exhibit a magnetic pull for the organization, the same way a compass guides the traveler. If we don't know where we are going, we'll never get there!
An air of excitement exists where people see real change occurring and can envision the potential for future improvement. It’s time to align the entire organization around our strategy and ensure we are all pulling on the same rope. Departmental objectives need to align with the company purpose and vision for the future.
2. Proposed Lean Framework
There are many Lean strategies/frameworks/models available to reduce non-value adding activities. It is necessary to develop a systematic methodology and analytical model to select appropriate Lean strategies taking into account the manufacturer’s focus on improvement areas (wastes), within their particular resource constraints. By selecting appropriate Lean strategies, a manufacturer can better prioritize implementation efforts and resources to maximize the benefits of implementing lean strategies in their organization.
3. Lean Self-Assessment
Evaluating the Lean practice in different areas provides a baseline for the organization. A lean assessment is intended to examine an organization’s systems, behaviors, and culture, and in doing so identify strengths, opportunities for improvement, and the critical gaps that slow or inhibit a lean transformation. The assessment provides an overall index of lean performance score of an organization. Understanding the lean index can contribute to successful lean implementation as it provides authentic results for lean performance and directs decision-makers to corrective actions. It is important to perform an assessment by an experienced team. The lean implementation team might have the necessary experience, but external consultant might be required to provide an additional beneficial perspective in the planning stage.
4. Training Plan & Resources
Identify training programs for the employees and managers on Lean knowledge. The resistance to lean transformation among managers is usually caused by the lack of skills and lean knowledge. Likewise, employees’ resistance to lean improvements is likely due to inadequate training and commitment. To overcome these problems, the organizations should emphasize effective lean-related education and training programs as well as establish training assessment to measure the training impacts.
The most effective way to resource a Lean transformation is through a combination of developing internal resources and providing external support from experienced Lean coaches. Developing the internal lean specialists means that your organization will gain the skills to sustain the change and to keep improving. Complementing these individuals with external resources does a number of things. It provides you with the know how in Lean and the experience in leading a Lean transformation. The Lean coach will have experience in change management and should be able to clearly identify the cultural and leadership barriers to change within your organization. They should help you develop strategies to overcome these barriers.
5. Monitor and Adjust
Now that the organization strategy is aligned and resources are deployed on what's important, we must monitor the results of our activities and make corrections based on results. Put the Plan-Do-Check-Adjust continuous improvement cycle to work.
All the business excellence models across the globe are built on achieving a continual improvement in all dimensions of the business. Excellence is a paradigm in which the organizations strive to excel others initially and over a period of time – develop a culture of excelling themselves. Lean thinking drives the organizations to excelling themselves regularly.
A Lean roadmap provides a systematic implementation process: specific actions in order of precedence that are milestones in the journey from mass to Lean production. A Lean roadmap is not a cookbook of actions that must be strictly followed for every implementation because every implementation will be singular, in that every company has its own culture, and inheritance policies and systems, which will either support or delay the Lean journey.