Team attitude, knowledge, skills, and resources will make or break the successful implementation of lean. The best managers prepare the company culture for a bumpy but rewarding ride.

It just so happens I’ve been working closely with a few lean gurus in the last 6 months, and I’ve been partnering with clients to implement lean processes, stemming from traditional operations to critical administrative functions such as order management and planning. None of these efforts will achieve anything if they aren’t backed by the “right” people culture. A few items to think about if you are going down this path:

    • Culture of innovation – Contrary to how most companies operate, a lean culture dictates that mistakes are good. In essence, if you don’t try anything new, you won’t make a mistake. Thus, you have to allow folks to try and fail (even when it affects your bottom line) – and encourage it!
    • Bottom up – The people at the bottom of the pyramid are the most powerful. Executives and management are there to provide support, tools, mentoring etc.; however, the people who will make or break lean’s success are the people doing the work.
    • Involvement – Of course, you must involve the people. This is not a cursory meeting to update folks; instead, it means you have to be willing to do something you think might not be as perfect as you’d like in order to take their input into account. Are you willing to do that?
    • Education – You must invest in your people and their education. Bring in lean experts to teach your folks to fish instead of catching it for them.
    • Metrics – Many companies fail when they say they support lean but their metrics dictate the opposite. Make sure what you say and what you do are in sync.