Why Lean Leadership Training is Essential to Building a Lean Culture

Lean Leadership Training: Why should an organization adopt lean?

  1. Because their competitors are practicing lean
  2. Because it will look good from a marketing stand point
  3. Because it’s the latest trend
  4. Because of its long standing reputation to reduce total costs, decrease lead times and improve process efficiency

The answer is D. because of its long standing reputation to reduce total costs and improve process efficiency. Organizations adopt lean to grow their business and find success in a competitive global market. There are a lot of important decisions to make at the beginning of a lean journey. Like where to start, for starters.

Lean Leadership Training: At the start of a lean implementation, what should an organization tackle first?

  1. Hire a consultant to ‘lean out’ key processes
  2. Implement 5S and visual management
  3. Develop and implement a training program to teach people about lean
  4. Modify marketing material to reflect the organization’s new lean status

The answer is, C. Train people on what lean is, why it is important and how it will impact their work. This may seem like an obvious conclusion, but as it happens, most organizations start out with one or more of the other options. The key to a successful lean implementation is to change the culture and the way people think about the business –it’s not the tools. Teaching people how to use tools is easy, but changing mental models requires determination and strategy.

Lean Leadership Training: This begs the question, who should be trained first?

  1. Associates or ‘front line’ workers
  2. Mid level managers
  3. Supervisors
  4. Senior managers and executives

, which may surprise you. Often times, organizations will choose a few core lean tools on which to train associates and supervisors. These can include 5S, root cause analysis, visual management, A3 documents, etc. The first mistake here is that these are just tools and tools to not build a culture. Thinking is what drives culture; therefore thinking is what needs to change first. The second mistake here is that when these associates and supervisors learn to use these tools, they begin to apply them.

Lean Leadership Training: Why is a mistake to empower supervisors and associates to apply lean tools before educating and introducing the senior management team to lean?

  1. Supervisors and associates will abandon their standard work in lieu of improvement projects
  2. The senior management team will not yet know how to make decisions that will support team members on the lean journey
  3. Supervisors and associates will use the tools incorrectly causing chaos
  4. The senior management team will become fearful of their jobs

River of Waste 2The answer is B. The senior management team will not yet know how to make decisions that will support team members on the lean journey. For example, if a team decides to ‘lower the water level’ in order to expose problems, there will probably be an associated dip in performance during that time. If the leadership team does not understand that this is a critical step towards process improvement, they are likely to shut down any future endeavors.

Lean Leadership Training: What should the training program include?

  1. Lean leadership training
  2. Lean problem solving tools
  3. Value Stream mapping
  4. How to lead a Kaizen

You got it! The answer is A. Lean leadership. There are many training programs designed specifically for lean leadership that will provide leaders with the ammunition they need to successfully executive lean strategies.

This type of training should teach leaders how to build teams, develop leader standard work, make decisions based on the entire value stream, creating effective measurement and management systems and hoLean Leadership Trainingw to teach, coach and mentor other leaders. Look for a lean leadership training program that aligns with your organization’s purpose and principles. It’s important that the platform and structure of the course is flexible, includes group discussion, project work and instructor feedback. Ask your extended network for recommendations and research companies that specialize in lean training and consulting.

It’s no secret that a majority of leaders have very demanding schedules and can often times be found on the road or in the sky, so look for flexible programs like distance learning or online training. Blended learning is a great alternative to classroom training - in that it combines self-paced online course work with applied learning and coaching. Using multiple delivery systems is a great way to add the type of structure and accountability that a self-paced online course might be lacking– all while catering to those who may be time and/ or location challenged.

What else should we consider when it comes to educating our leaders about lean?

Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

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LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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