Lean Enterprise: Applying Lessons Learned

During the planning, implementation and management of any lean enterprise process, there are lessons learned that would lead to improvements within the organization.

Unfortunately, in many cases, these valuable lessons learned are not captured accurately, not scoped out effectively, not acted upon and/or not followed through to completion.

Below are examples of common lessons learned to pay attention to in your processes. If several of these apply to or sound familiar from your organization, please contact us to find out more about lean enterprise and how we can help make it work.

The 8 Wastes of Lean:

Do not avoid using the 8 wastes of lean. Understanding how each of them work separately, but also how they interact with one another is critically important. Focus on how one waste creates another. For example, we know traditional inventory hides waste, but realizing that an organization’s data is also inventory is usually overlooked. Too much information equals overproduction and can lead to misunderstanding which, in turn, can create rework of shared documents or other information flows.

Variation and Standardization:

Understanding the role of variation is vital. If something unexpected happens, stop, evaluate and adapt. Variation slows down operations, reduces productivity and reduces quality of products. Variation is a symptom of not having defined standards or failing to enforce those standards. Standardization is a classic oversight for lean enterprise processes and integral to the success. This includes everything from operations to office functions like HR and finance. Review and map the processes to ensure no opportunities for improvement are being missed.

Lean is About People:

Lean, at its core, is about people and channeling their abundant capacity and unrealized talent toward achieving shared and defined goals. This is when lean culture begins to flourish. Use lean enterprise to develop that learning culture based on effective training, teaching and empowering people to become world class problem solvers. People want to be a part of something great that accomplishes great things; if they see the investments being made and the culture of innovation supported, the chances they will buy in and stay long term increases.

Every Problem is an Opportunity:

This is more about organizational mindset than one particular lean enterprise concept, but lean does reinforce the value of asking questions whenever waste is discovered in a process – Is this process needed? If so, how can this process be improved? How can I cut the process in half? Looking at every problem and seeing the opportunities takes practice and patience. Some teams will settle for incremental change that largely avoids eliminating the waste. Others will do nothing and mark the task as complete on their checklist anyway. Problems do not go away on their own. Lean enterprise teaches us how to face these challenges head-on and turn them to our advantage while also eliminating the waste. Significant progress is what makes a real difference; don’t settle for the easy answer. Find the right answer.

As we all know, there are lessons learned every day that could lead to improvements within our organizations. Isn’t it time we did something about it? Instead of continuing to ignore the problems or wasting time to work around them or relying on others to fix them, the time is now to address them. Lean enterprise focuses on value creation while eliminating waste and non-essential processes. Challenge yourself and your organization to be and do better. Contact us for help in taking the first steps.

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