Houses are built most often on a Solid Foundation. Houses that are not built on Solid foundations or the dirt has not been prepared over time, stress or resistance begin to tear, split, cave and eventually the house it supports will crumble and fall. So how do we ensure that a solid foundation for Lean is in place and ready to support the resistance it will face time and time again?
Lean for the most part is a people centric strategy that is largely dependant on the development and willingness to support a Lean culture of the people who work in an Organization. That's right much of a Company's Lean Strategy, start-up and initiative will require your most important resources buy in and Support, but there are other elements of a Lean initiative that will help build a foundation for Lean in your Organization.
Buy In From The Top
Whether it's Executive support or the owner who "swears" to understand, provide and assist in driving Lean, Gaining support from the top will be a valuable asset to have. One reason is that a Lean initiative requires many elements of a company; everyone from Supply Chain, to Production even the Administrative and Sales staff that operate primarily out of an office need to understand that at some point or another they will be part of the journey of Lean, when the Executive and Ownership have a deep conviction of the strategy it sets the tone for the rest of the Organization's success and Support.
Communicate your Commitment
Now that you have received Buy in from the top, it's time to align the Organization with your new Strategy. One of the key ways of creating alignment in an Organization is opening up the lines of Communication. Communication show not only the importance to the Strategy but that the Company is behind the Lean initiatives. Top Management and Executives should in some way explain to the organization what Lean focuses on and why the Organization chose to deploy the strategy. You can do this via; Townhalls, Celebrations, Email, newsletters, video messages just make sure that whatever line of communication you open up it shows those receiving it how supportive you are of Lean.
Find Your Champions and Leaders
If you haven't seen Derek Sivers Ted talk on Leadership Lessons it is certainly worth watching. Although it is not often easy to make the decision who champions and future leaders will be if the first few steps are performed correctly you may find that people will scout you out. That is what you want, not necessarily the Master's degree or the 20 year veteran although it may be them. You will want excited, passionate and ready to develop leaders to become your future leaders, in short it's the leaders who want to develop other leaders that may become your leaders and champions.
Develop and Reward the team
Now that the foundation has been leveled and the concrete poured, it's time to let the material cure and become solid. A key portion to this stage is the time, however Tactics like "Train the Trainer" courses and the necessary authority to support your new strategy will speak value to the new team. One last important thing that may help to keep energy in the newly forming "Core Team" is to put in place a reward and recognition program. A few positive things will develop from this; It will show appreciation, It will give people an opportunity to recommend others for appreciation and finally a clear criteria regarding what constitutes "rewards and recognition" will help in driving proper behaviors that are in alignment with the overall Company Strategy.
Often times after building a house the Contractor must hire an "inspector" to verify and advise that what has been done meets both the Criteria set by the future homeowner and safety measures. These inspectors can be interpreted as your Change agents and or Consultants and are key to helping the house develop as time goes on. With these few Elements in place you will have laid a very solid foundation for your new and improved home to be built on.