Where to Start Lean or another Change Initiatives

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Starting Lean other change efforts can seem overwhelming.  When considering where to start a lean effort or any other change effort there are two main considerations:

1) What is the best place to start from a business performance standpoint (technical consideration)

2) Where does the culture support the change (behavioral consideration)


Technical Considerations/Criteria

I like using a scoring system to understand if an area is a good area to begin here are some considerations:

  1. Can you specify a scope of an area that you would like to improve? (Y/N)
  2. Is there a performance challenge in the area?  (Y/N)
  3. How long has the challenge been going on? (1= 1 month – 12= one year+)
  4. Is there a financial estimate to the benefit that you would gain? (Y/N)
  5. What would you estimate as the benefit if the issues are resolved (1= extremely low, 12=extremely high)

If you answer yes to all the higher the ratings the better the area to focus.

Behavioral Considerations/Criteria

The behavioral considerations can be even more critical to success when choosing a place to start a lean or other change initiative. Here are some initial criteria to help you determine an area to choose.

  1. What is your management culture (1= Command and Control, 4 = Hero based (a few people have the knowledge and expertise), 8 = Political gaming, 12 = Collaborative)
  2. Do you have a sponsor who is engaged and willing to give space for the team to create a new environment? (Y/N)
  3. How are you planning to engage your employees? (1= Project leader with small team, 4= Project leader with large team, 8 = Kaizen events or other similar collaborative events, 12 = Collaborative events with daily management process to develop capacity)
  4. How is process improvement viewed in your organization (1= A way to save money, 4= A way to add value to the customer +#1 , 8= A way to build capacity and create a learning environment + #1&#4, 12 = Use it as a strategic advantage + #1, #4,#8)

If you answer yes to all the higher the ratings the better the area to focus.

Other Considerations

Here are some rule of thumbs that will help you maximize your success.

  1. Start small vs. too large
  2. Have process experts help with the change effort instead of subject matter experts leading the change
  3. Learn as you do vs. separating training and projects.
  4. Challenge your people and set high expectations that are reachable but are a stretch
  5. Create an environment of learning and positive affect.

For more information on what kind of environment to create please read Climbing the Mountain of Change.

Join our Conference call next week where we’ll cover the topic in detail.

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