Implementing a Lean Management System: Communications & Training Key to Success
Determining how to improve efficiencies in your business can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. Implementing a Lean Management System in your business will cascade structure, reduce costs and streamline business processes.
The place to start is at the beginning. The first phase of implementing a Lean Management System is conducting a Needs Analysis. Here, you can understand the current state of the business and determine needs, identify pinch points and where wasteful operations exist. Second, build a lean management infrastructure, which will support the entire system. And third, scale and deploy the system across the organization. In this third phase, communications and training is the key to success. Let’s dive in to phase three now.
Phase Three: Scale and Deploy a Lean Management System
Following the first two phases, you may think that the heavy lifting of implementing a Lean Management System is done. However, due to the magnitude of internal integrations impacting the organization’s systems and culture, this third phase, deployment, is the most difficult.
The Deployment Phase of any major initiative, including technology integration, process development, change management or organization development, are often where organizations stumble and are most prone to failure. In the scenario of implementing a Lean Management System, which encompasses many components of process development and change management, it is crucial in the Deployment Phase to provide strict attention and support by the entire organization.
Something to note: A Lean Management System is not something that is done to an organization, rather, it is something that the organization will become over time. It is this new way of doing business that will have a direct impact on efficiencies and profitability.
Following are the key aspects of deploying a Lean Management System.
Build a Communication Campaign
The decision and effort to implement a Lean Management System is significant for any organization. It will impact the entire infrastructure, employees, teams, and culture. Therefore, it is critical to communicate what is happening and how it will impact everyone.
The communications campaign should be infused into the organization’s current internal communications efforts utilizing all communications channels. The communications team or designated campaign owner should be part of the team meetings to fully understand what is occurring and how the Lean Management System will impact the organization and employees.
The communications campaign plan should outline key messages, identify all internal audiences, what internal communications channels will be utilized, who is developing and approving messages and a cadence for all communications. The single owner or voice of the communications will ensure consistency and accuracy of messages and how they are delivered. Depending on your organization’s current culture and communications structure, it is important to have the most senior member of the organization or project sponsor to deliver the first communication. This will convey to everyone the importance of this effort and what is expected. Everyone in the organization should “be in the know” about the transformation taking place.
In addition to the planned communications efforts, department and team leaders should frequently discuss the implementation in their daily standup meetings, staff meetings and monthly “step back” reviews with the entire team. There should be a continual flow of information about implementation details such as schedule, costs, return on investment and how everything will impact each individual, each team and the entire organization.
Over communication is a good thing. As is the exchange of information among the organization. Solicit feedback and provide open communication channels for anyone in the organization to ask questions and provide insight. When employees feel engaged, informed and part of the solution, they will support the initiative and do everything they can to ensure its success.
Include Training as part of Lean Implementation
Training should always play a key role in launching any new system or technology, especially implementing a Lean Management System.
It is often beneficial for internal Learning and Development (L&D) to partner with third-party training teams. An external team may have additional expertise and staff to manage and develop the necessary training curriculum and infrastructure to deploy the Lean Management initiative.
- Trends indicate that internal L&D teams are gradually diminishing in staff size. Although the need and demand for training are increasing. The overhead costs associated with internal L&D teams, coupled with remote based Learning Management Systems (LMS), often justify partnering with a third-party L&D team.
- For organizations with multiple locations, or dispersed nationally or internationally, it can be difficult to reach individuals and teams in all physical areas of an organization. The goal of any technology, system or methodology training should be understanding, clarity, and adoption. When employees are inspired and excited to learn and embrace the training, success will follow. Often, although unfair to internal L&D staff, employees are more inspired and supportive of the information when provided by a neutral third-party trainer, who can be seen as the “expert.”
- A third benefit to utilizing an external L&D resource is speed to market. The sooner the Lean Management System deployment occurs, the sooner the organization can start to benefit. By streamlining business processes, efficiency and profit gains will follow. The speed to training and implementation will reduce second-guessing and a tendency for employees to revert to old habits. Keeping the momentum from launch through training and implementation will create urgency and synergy among teams and across the organization. As a result, the support of a continuous improvement environment will provide organizational growth, positive morale and employee retention.
Post Deployment: Follow Up, Follow Through and Sustain
Post-deployment is where the work really begins. Every employee, at every level of the organization, should feel accountability to the initiative. The Lean Management tools and new infrastructure culture will start to permeate across the business.
Follow up with promises to direct reports, and leaders should follow through on tasks associated with moving initiatives along. Make sure to provide all teams the tools, training, education, coaching, and development needed to succeed.
Leadership will need to hold direct reports accountable and direct reports will need to hold leadership accountable to sustain this initiative. It will take time until managing the business with a Lean approach changes the culture of the organization and becomes the new way that business operates. Adoption is key and building credibility across teams will enable the change to occur faster. However, it is imperative to let it happen organically.
Start mapping and improving business processes obsessively. Measure every improvement and objectively document improvements that drive business efficiencies and profitability. Make sustainability infectious and it will inherently create an atmosphere of continuous improvement.