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Culture and Lean Implementations

What is a cultural transformation needed to implement Lean in an organization?

The culture of an organization defines who you are and what you stand for in the company. Vibrant cultures are value-driven, mission-focused and vision-guided. They display high levels of values alignment. Vibrant cultures have high levels of performance because they create internal cohesion, attract talented people, and inspire employees to go the extra mile.

The leaders of such organizations practice value based Leadership and care about the well-being of all their employees.

Two pillars of Lean:

1. Continuous Improvement

• Part of the culture and expectations
• By everyone, every day
• In every department, from the top down
• Management goes to the work cell or gemba to view the work being done

2. Respect for People

• Management asks questions as a form of mentoring, so that workers decide for themselves what is best.
• Each worker is unique and should be treated with respect and helped by management to fulfill their capabilities and dreams.
• Communication to all about the companies’ goals, plans and results assures that everyone is on the same page.

These two pillars are true to Lean as well. Many lean practitioners may not understand that the “Respect for People” pillar is the basis for everything else–trust, motivation, continuous improvement and outstanding performance.

It’s a big step to adopt a Lean strategy as the Lean Management System for the entire company,but it’s important that everyone has the same goals and expectations, i.e., one language.

Management should be teaching the Lean classes, with actual examples at the work cell or gemba and frequently inspecting for both continuous improvement and respect for people every day! Then everyone knows it’s important.

Some effective questions about a Lean Transformation

1. Does everyone in the company understand that this is a long-term commitment?
2. Does the company have a Lean Management System in place that defines these expectations and live by it daily? Research identifies this as a best practice for companies that have been on the Lean journey for 20 to 30 years.
3. Does management have standard work? Yes, this includes top management, marketing, engineering, purchasing, quality and everyone else.
4. Is the company continually looking at the customer’s needs today and tomorrow? For example, is the company willing to change what works today for what will work tomorrow?

Ask yourself these four questions to see if your company is on a Lean Transformation or just doing a Lean manufacturing project

Charles Intrieri
Mr. Charles (Chuck) Intrieri is a highly experienced and credentialed Supply Chain professional and is a recognized thought leader and innovator, primarily in the areas of Supply Chain Optimization, Third Party Logistics (3PL) International Purchasing/Importing, Requests for Quotation (RFQ) generation, Inventory Management and Logistics, Warehousing, strategic sourcing, supplier management, contract negotiations, truckling: TL/LTL/TMS/pooling/consolidation and reviews, and Purchasing operations. He is a motivational team builder with a history of conducting significant organizational transformation and achieving important operational successes at the local, regional and global level. Charles M. Intrieri Consulting LEAN, Inventory Optimization, 3PL, Supply Chain, & Logistics Consulting 714-788-0744 Tustin, CA-PST

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