What is Lean Management?

Lean management consists of 3 key elements:

1) Lean tools, system and structure:

Many organisations will start their Lean journey through the application of specific Lean tools or a part of the Lean system. Manufacturing often starts with value stream mapping whereas the office may start with specific process or problem solving. The important factor to recognise is that these are only the initiation steps and a comprehensive plan covering competency building, training, deployment and culture change needs to be created.

2) Front line involvement and engagement:

The involvement of the people actually doing the work is key to all Lean activities. Sometimes management or IT decides it knows what happens in the process, leaving gaps, questions or irrelevant steps in the new process. Engagement needs to be created through ownership and a new structured way of working that empowers the front line.

3) Leadership actions and behaviours:

Lean is often sponsored by the top of the organisation and left for the front line to deliver. But if it’s left there without senior/middle management knowledge and support, a void will develop – “the middle management gap” – which will jeopardise successful deployment. Managers at all levels need to know what Lean involves and also what their role is as a leader to ensure it sustains and grows within the organisation.