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The Lean Management System, from Strategy to Excellence

Quality InsightsQuality Insights Volume 18April 19, 2024

We take you through Lean management, from strategizing to the end goal.

It is time to talk about what good training should look like. We start from the basis that training is necessary and motivates. But it is essential to know what form it will take and why it will work.

In the case of product improvement, today and always, training in Lean is fundamental. We have already seen, throughout many articles, that continuous improvement is a form of work that ensures the health and sustainability of a company and, therefore, its success.

Lean is of little value if the organization’s people are not involved, and training is one of the key factors that makes this happen.

What makes us decide on one method of training or another? Once the need has been detected; we should think about priorities.

Training is coupled with the training need and these factors need to be considered:

  • Course content and methodology
  • Availability
  • The price/duration
  • Word of mouth
  • Curriculum Vitae of trainer

The main problem facing companies today is the lack of an organization aligned and focused on action. The Lean management system is the method for guiding the company which focuses it on achieving the strategic business objectives.

The success of the system is sustained by the deployment of the indicators and action plans at each level of the hierarchy, from the CEO to every one of the workers.

The improvement of the indicators is guaranteed for three reasons, essentially:

  1. The hierarchy is clear and focused on the contribution of the value of each function
  2. The robust and sustainable human organization, with control and frequent review
  3. Improvement workshops and prioritization of resources, according to the management guidelines

The system’s structure must involve all workers of the company, from general management down, through the application of the Lean method of continuous improvement.

The starting point should always be a vision and mission clear to the business. Once the main lines have been established, we should ask how they can be deployed through the organization.

Hoshin Kanri is a method based on the cooperation of the entire company in achieving the strategic objectives of the long- and short-term management plan. Through implementing Hoshin Kanri, deployment objectives are formulated, cascading down plans and goals for the entire organization. The system allows you to monitor the achievement of objectives and effectiveness of plans, creating a culture of continuous improvement in the strategic planning processes.

Hoshin Kanri encompasses two dimensions: strategic direction and operational management. The system of periodic reviews assures us of the progress of implementation, even at a very low level (daily or weekly), since the continuous improvement system guarantees the review and improvement of processes as part of the day-to-day work routine.

Another important point within the Lean management system is the adaptation of the organizational charts and, ultimately, the hierarchy of the company, with a focus on functions that have had their value contribution clearly defined within the strategy. It is very important that the hierarchy, in the past conceived as authentic “Taifa Kingdoms”, is clear and agile to ensure that actions focused on improvement flow very fast within the organization.

At this point, we have an organization and hierarchy, on paper, focused on action and the deployment of strategic lines in specific objectives of each department or function. But how can we guarantee that the plans are carried out within the set deadlines?

The answer is the implementation of the Lean methodology of continuous improvement in all areas of the company. Each person in the organization belongs to a GAP (group autonomous of people) and knows their function within the group and its objectives. There is a visual management of indicators and a communication system based on daily meetings, in which the results are analyzed from the previous day. Action plans are executed to reach the objectives we have set ourselves and, most importantly, we get everyone involved.

There are three types of Lean methodologies, depending on the type of processes that we carry out:

  • Lean manufacturing: The goal is excellence in operations. The scope is the area of operations, mainly production, logistics, warehouses, maintenance and plant quality. All the tools for the improvement of processes are in this area
  • Lean office: Guarantees excellence in processes, administrative, financial, commercial, purchasing, quality and engineering. In short, all processes exist in an office environment
  • Lean projects: Excellence in project management. This is a very important aspect, since companies develop projects to create new products or services, facilities, developments or implementations of informatics or systems of quality and improvement projects. We cannot let individual departments inhibit the rapid evolution of the projects that are the future of organizations

Finally, the processes are in the hands of the people. How can we think of business excellence without plans that ensure people and team development? This situation has made us forget, in many cases, that the people are the ones who differentiate organizations from others. Strategies and processes can be copied, but individuals in an organization cannot.

The Lean people methodology of continuous improvement of personal development and leadership ensures that we have the best people in every job. The approach must be to involve, align and train in the technical skills necessary for each position and, more importantly, teach the skills inherent to the position held (leadership, communication, negotiation, personal productivity, stress management, conflict management, coaching, etc.).

Everything starts and ends in people, because it is the people in our organizations who, with their involvement, contributions and spirit of continuous improvement, make it possible to optimize the processes – and with them, an improvement in productivity and business results.

To learn more, visit our Consulting Services web page or speak with your local SGS representative.

About SGS

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