Managing your lean transformation

Lean Six Sigma Deployment Memory Jogger, 2012
Lean transformation is about managing "people  learning" instead of implementing "lean solutions."
Companies with sustainable superior performance such as Google, Southwest Airlines and Toyota have one common denominator: Processes that allow harvesting their people ingenuity and energy better than their competitors.
Southwest Airlines cost advantage derives from very capable, productive and motivated employees who look for ways to survive and thrive in an industry plague of bankruptcies, no barriers to entry, many substitute products and non proprietary technology. Google's constant innovation is driven by an organizational environment that allows people to be creative and focused.

These companies are managing their transformation by leveraging their people capabilities instead of spending effort on copying solutions.

How is your company managing its lean transformation?

The KAIZEN CULTURE as competitive advantage

Managers rush to improve operation effectiveness through kaizen events to quickly implement kanban and mistake-proofing solutions confusing them as the source of sustainable superior performance. This is what I call the "wrong" lean.

If your lean transformation efforts are oriented to implement "lean solutions" on the idea that these solutions will recreate the competitive advantage that we see in Toyota or Southwest Airlines, your changes for success are as good as 2%. I wish you the best of lucks. You will need it.

The term "transformation" in lean transformation does not refer to changing your operation processes but to change your people dynamics and capabilities to identify, prioritize, solve problems and share improvements continuously which is the source of competitive advantage of a lean organization. This is what I call  the "right" lean or "kaizen culture"

For instance, Southwest Airlines practices to delivery low-cost and convenient service such as quick plane turnarounds at the gate are not the source its competitive advantage but how its people are organized to identify these practices and execute them. In the same way, Toyota superior operation effectiveness is result of how its people can continuously deliver reliable, high-quality and low-cost automobiles faster than its competitors.

What lean are you doing: "wrong lean" or the "kaizen way"?