LEAN Is The Future of Management

Change is worth the effort of change, it is why I love LEAN. Change defines life, work, and all people. Ironically, we all want tomorrow to be predictable. The rate of change in business is advancing quickly. It means disruption in that daily predictable life. What is disruption you ask? Check out Industry 4.0 for that well-detailed answer. The article quoted here is a good one, the point is preparation will require Small Business Owners to see the change coming. And, if they do see it, the Small Business Owner should embrace LEAN. The author proposes the retraining of employees as the answer and should have been more clear with LEAN as the answer.

Small Business Owners should embrace LEAN

Have you heard the phrase, “boil the ocean?” While this is true, it’s hardly the end game. How do you pick what’s next, or where to focus? I like the metaphor to describe both the size of the problem and also the number of problems Small Business Owners face. Often owners feel overwhelmed because it seems like they must “boil the ocean” to achieve the future.

The Author quote below is good, but proposes training as the solution to Industry 4.0 but that is not enough. The author barely touches on LEAN but LEAN should be the answer that formulates the plan for training.

With this knowledge, what technologies will the company purchase that will automate tasks and jobs in your organisation going forward? With reduced labor processes, what new skills will be required to meet future demands? Which employees have the capacity for reskilling to the identified skills needed? When will you need them and for how long? What skills will be required from specialised contractors and when?

If these questions sound familiar, they are. Whether called ERP or Lean Process or the Toyoda Way, many of these techniques and processes are now applicable to people analytics.


LEAN Evangelist, All-Aboard!

I am a LEAN evangelist because “boiling the ocean” does not exist in LEAN precisely because LEAN uses an engineering process to address every aspect of management. But, so much of what I read on the internet, like the article I quote, is piecemeal, I think one-off solutions do a disservice to Small Business Owners. Typical of management thinking these days, the Author’s suggestion that training is the answer is intuitively right but it doesn’t offer what LEAN offers. LEAN is the engineers’ way of structuring managing people, processes, and profits.

LEAN on Training, An Example

Using this article as one example of hundreds of management topics to showcase how LEAN has a complete array of integrated methods not only for training but every aspect of management. For training, you need the context for training, after all, training is an enormous investment but a necessary one. LEAN provides thinking methods to get at what needs training, what training fits the 90 day-to-3 year plan of the organization, the training that fits employees because employees see the need because customer demands in the near and longer-term have been scoped out. LEAN uses a 1940’s methodology that has been continuously improved for jobs. It’s called “Training Within Industry.” Look it up, you can teach yourself, or get a coach like me to help.

A Short Story Of Biz Failure

I visit with prospects often, so I see lots of failures and successes. Recently, an owner told me of their struggle with their leadership team. It was both their board and fellow owners. There was a disconnect with these other leaders and it was the cause for a lack of vision for the organization. Teams were floundering and it was causing employees to leave for better organizations and defects were occurring.

This story is common, in fact, in my experience of decades, this is the thinking problem of our day. So, what happened? Months later the owner and I reconnected, they wanted to provide me an update. They were proud of progress on one front. But, the vision wasn’t improved, nor was the defects, nor was team disenfranchisement. The service they provided wasn’t improving. The owner took on the challenge and was proud of solving a few specific items they saw as a priority, is this familiar to you? Do you see this in your organization? Of course, improvement is good but, Industry 4.0 requires so much more.

LEAN To The Rescue, Or Not

Like the author in the article, the owner and the author jumped to a single conclusion. As a culture we’re so smart, we are over-educated so much so we outsmart ourselves, we love intellect over our soul. Instead of instituting LEAN as the management tool that would solve many problems they chose to solve a couple of problems.

The alternative is to use LEAN because when deployed properly it encompasses all aspects of management; from boardroom vision setting and to distributing the message and incorporating down to the training employees want and the organization needs. Instead, this owner chose to go-it-alone solving what they could solve.

The barrier to moving toward LEAN was many but getting started would have entailed a board discussion that this owner was not ready to tackle but without it, the root-cause of thinking would not be made visible. That’s the future for small business. LEAN makes visible even the thinking and I find that’s often the barrier for owners and leaders. It’s why Small Business Owners should embrace LEAN!

Just Stop “Jumping-To-Conclusions”

I fell in love with LEAN when I started to hear phrases from the great experts who have been teaching LEAN for decades say, “No More Jumping To Conclusions.” I like it because it says something about how owners think. It’s how I use to think, I was an owner for 20 years. But, in retrospect, in reflecting on my own past businesses, I can say I thought my job was to give answers. But, as is the case in the story above, what an owner can do alone is not nearly as powerful as what I see teams thinking together can do.

In management school, the thinking supports the CEO as the leader and that answers and direction come from there. It’s called command-and-control but it’s not a management tool for the 21st-century speed of change.

Industry 4.0 is Demanding Different Thinking

Industry 4.0 is demanding something different, Small Business Owners who don’t hear this message will be left wondering what happened. Their business is at risk because the competitors are using new thinking called, “Scientific Thinking.” This Scientific Thinking is not new, but it when used to orchestrate teams across all business functions, LEAN will meet the crushing speed of change. Small Businesses are the least prepared to meet the demand of change because old fashion management is commonly at work.

Innovation, vision, execution, planning, delivery, processes, people, profits, and more all fit into a nice neat package called LEAN and it should replace any other management process in place today.

What To Do?

Besides calling me for coaching, there are plenty of places you can go learn LEAN or find a coach. Here’s my favorites; Gemba Academy, LEI, VDS, Invica, or the Michigan LEAN consortium.

What’s the summary? Small Business Owners should embrace LEAN! That is to say, use LEAN to have an engineering solution to the management questions that you face. LEAN is the future of managing people, processes, and profit. I like this phrase for LEAN: “LEAN is the engineers’ way of structuring managing people, processes, and profits.”

All Aboard!

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