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Innovative Thinking

Five Factors of a Successful Launch of Your Lean Journey

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Lean manufacturing can be a very worthwhile investment, as it can have a very significant effect on your productivity and profitability. But beginning your lean journey is a daunting task and a serious investment, involving a lot of effort and a bunch of money. If not managed properly, a launch into the lean is at risk for serious failure, so keep the following factors in mind to greatly increase your chances of a successful launch.

1. Rules of Engagement

First things first, it is important to set up some general rules for your managers and business executives in order to uphold your end goals and ensure proper team functionality. All too often, management engages in the poor practice of approving an idea because it came from a “smart” team member, allowing decisions to be based on what they think of a person instead of the integrity of the actual idea itself. In order to get the most meaningful contributions to the launch project, make sure your management is seeking to approve suggestions based on factual data. Also, it is important that your business execs remain on the exterior, allowing the regular functional staff to complete all their assigned work without impedance.

2. Ensure Your Support Will Last

The beginning of a launch into lean manufacturing is exciting, and a whole lot of people will line up to offer support. Many people don’t understand, however, that the launch into lean is a journey all of its own. In order to succeed, management needs to continuously promote the launch, evaluate its progress, and assess its condition. Supporters need to know from the start that the launch will be monitored in every way, and that those showing visionary skills in lean manufacturing will be called upon to work their hardest.

You can really help your staff stay attached to the launch by setting up some easy wins and some acceptable failures along the way. Doing this will not only allow the staff to feel some wins without the fear of making costly mistakes, but it also prepares your staff to handle mistakes that will inevitably occur along the way without pushing them off track, ensuring continued support and success.

3. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

There’s no question that Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are needed to help drive operational improvements and that they are essential for organizations to present performance information to all levels of the organization. A KPI is a metric with the key concept of driving strategic competitive advantage for the organization and successful KPIs will deliver a lot of long-term value. But if you want success with your KPIs, you need to focus on some things, like taking a few critical measurements instead of an unnecessary multitude of them. Also, make sure the KPIs you choose will push toward your actual goal, are applicable to the entire organization, and are easy to control and validate.

4. Give Your Supervisor's Attention

Suddenly changing your organization’s values to accommodate lean concepts without providing a proper transition for your supervisors can turn your efforts into a train wreck. Your supervisors are probably accustomed to some behaviors that don’t fit well with lean practices, based on results that you have rewarded them for in the past. Having been so acquainted with such practices can make it very hard for your supervisors to swap their tracks over to lean. To overcome their habits, you’ll need to ensure that they have something new and different to work on and that they can only approach it in new ways; force them to adapt.

5. Train!

One of the biggest mistakes you could make is to undertake a lean journey without the appropriate training. Management needs to deploy basic training at the beginning of the launch so that all staff has an understanding.

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