Thinking Thursday – How To Change Minds

Thank you to those who responded to yesterday’s wiki. If you didn’t get a chance or want to expand on your thoughts please post them to the comments.

Yesterday’s wiki post:

“How do you influence an organization to start “Lean” in some shape or form outside of manufacturing?”

The wiki is a divergent wiki. A convergent wiki is looking for 1 “correct” response to a
question. A divergent wiki just asks give me all the answers you can think of for the question.

I’ve also launched a lean wiki site so please add articles and join in.

1)Numbers speak louder than words so showing data on successful implementations seems to
help even though those implementations aren’t in the same field. Also getting the decision
makers to see what lean looks like before and after seems to help even if it’s not in their field.

2)Numers are very important. As per my experience in implementing Lean in service
organizations, the ROI is essential, otherwise it is extremely difficult to get the buy-in from
the senior management (owners). Showing succefull cases is not enough: many times you get
the typical barrier “ok, this worked there, but I’m not sure will work here, every business is
3)Including support activities in the initial definition of the value stream and making the VS
manager responsible for the efficient flow of information kind of obliges him to integrate the
non-production areas.

‘Starting’ Lean outside of manufacturing doesn’t seem to me to be a logical choice. In pure non

manufacturing environments, the ability to ‘see’ the value stream and estimate its VA/NVA
ratios and be capable of efficiently communicating this is a pretty good starting point.
4)There is no one answer to this, but mine is: where is their pain? Where is their gap? What is
their challenge?

Don’t try to sell them on lean. Sell them on the ability to solve their own problems and control

their own destiny.
5) It depends from one situation to another. But the thing to understand in any environment is
their problem. If you can demonstrate that they can resolve their problem with a little of your
influence, then you are on a good pattern to have a complete buy-in from the top management
in the organisation.
6) Pain, problems and staff protests can get people to consider new ways of working. As
someone who primarily works in staff functions, especially communications, I get calls from
individuals who feel stuck. They can’t do quality work for their customers with the same or
generally newly reduced resources. They need to work differently. And often they are receptive
to lean.
7)Good question. If they feel a gap or a challenge then Flinchbaugh is pretty much right. If they
don’t have a high sense of urgency around current performance then, I would try to spin it on
speed and simplicity. I have used swimlane charts of current and proposed states with a
timeline on it. The point being to show them what could be if they don’t recognize a problem.
Most non-manufacturing processes that I have mapped violate the fundamental TPS rule of a
clear and simple path through production. Show that visually.
Some people don’t grasp how speed is almost always good though. One organization that I
worked with wanted to improve their hiring process. They weren’t getting their choice of
candidates. Upon some analysis they learned that many of their preferred candidates were
already placed by the time they got to the offer phase. Lack of speed was a problem and they
didn’t recognize that immediately.

8)I would add that many times we talk about the “burning bridge” the so called change platform.
Many organizations do have that but is not necessarily needed. All organizations have the
opportunity to improve. The key is for a business leader to recognize what needs to be improved.
It will be different in all organizations. Those who can’t find any improvement really aren’t

This is improvement is a gap that needs to be filled and lean thinking is a great way to close that
gap. It has been proven to sucessfully help countless organization. As we know it is not a short
term solution but more a revolution to beat your competition and grow your business by adding
value and innovation to your customers.

It is helpful that you show them what can be done. Seeing is believing. Next is educating the
leadership that the journey or path of improvement is more important than the destination.
Without this even after showing them how and why it can’t be sustained.

If you have any thoughts or additions please post them in the comments section.

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