I know what Lean is.
I have a full toobox to help people improve. I understand how transformational Lean can be, and believe it is a critical component of Operational Excellence. I even think Lean at home, or when I’m running errands.
But less than 10 years ago, I had no clue what Lean was.
They didn’t teach it in Engineering. I didn’t learn it working at IBM, or as an assistant plant manager at MTD. The small military contractor I worked for didn’t apply Lean to building its missile guidance system. (But probably should have.) The start-up we formed didn’t use Lean to set up its value stream. (But absolutely should have.) And when my last employer had to find a way to control costs in a big way, they never once used the word Lean to describe the system designed for us by Porsche (we discovered it was Lean, within a larger Operational Excellence program.)
So I get it that you might not know what Lean is either. Let alone have a burning desire to invest in something called “Operational Excellence.”
So I advise my clients to start small.
Start with something easy, but useful. Make 1 process run better. Get a small group together and see what improvements we can make. Then pick a key business metric to identify the next opportunity. Pick something that keeps you up at night, and we’ll tackle root cause with a focused workshop. Don’t spend a lot, don’t sign up for years of training. Just try it. See how it goes.
Once you see the positive impact from small but continuous changes made by your own empowered people, and see more processes start to run smoothly — you’ll know what Lean is too.