If you have been following along with our Lean Implementation series you have now completed analysis and assessment in the planning stage and your organization is fully engaged in training, improvement projects and the actual tactical initiatives that support the building of a kaizen culture. By now you are probably seeing some results in very specific areas of your organization and are starting to ponder the thought, "how do we keep all these great changes?" Well that is where stage 3 begins, continuously improving and sustaining the changes. Here we will look at 3 key elements that will support the changes that have already began and help to continue improving your department/organization.
Continue developing and training teams
In the spirit of kaizen we want to ensure that the three key elements of our strategic implementation stays focused on people, processes and the systems or technology the organization is currently engaged in improving, which leads us to the first important tactic of continuing to develop and train teams that are focused on removing waste and transforming areas of the business, in short keep training your teams. Additionally we want to ensure that trainers are trained in order to spread the new knowledge and skills that each individual is currently developing. These types of activities are commonly referred to as train the trainer. By developing leaders that can turn around and develop other leaders you will support a community based culture where everyone can not only understand the dynamic changes occurring around them but can also assist in ensuring the capability of each team.
Utilize a balanced scorecard and make your metrics visual
A balanced scorecard is a list of the financial and operational measurements that can be used to continue evaluating the results of your activities and the organization's performance against those measurements. Generally the scorecard focuses on 4 overarching areas of measurement: Customer perspective, financial perspectives, process perspectives and learning and innovation. Using a scorecard connects the measurements to the goals and objectives and allows you to continuously monitor progress towards the goals. Although the balanced scorecard might not always be streamed across television screens in your shop the key performance indicators that you have set to measure progress towards objectives should be shared with appropriate individuals. When setting your key performance indicators keep in mind that lagging indicators can not be influenced as well as leading indicators which tells us if we are setting indicators for change it may be best to establish a leading indicator in order to influence and change results towards the overarching objectives.
Find a way to share and benchmark
The concept of yokoten can be very powerful in sustaining change. Yokoten refers to the sharing of knowledge or experiences laterally within an organization. Since we are building a lean community and culture sharing can be a very effective and quick way to apply positive results to other parts of the organization. One other aspect of sustainment can be found in benchmarking other great companies. this can be done on three levels which are: process level benchmarking, best-in-class benchmarking and competitive benchmarking.
Sustainment and continuing to improve can be a challenge as it is natural to want to "return" to what you feel comfortable doing, however by establishing measurements, training teams and looking for guidance outside of the bubbles we work in the act of continuously improving or sustaining results can be achievable with some work. Next week we will address the most important aspect of our PDCA based implementation, again.