What are the Secrets of Lean Transformation?

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Lean transformation deals with a powerful combination of techniques and attitudes which help in increasing the performance of your business based on the concepts of eliminating waste and adding value and capacity to the business. In short, lean transformation is not about just using new concepts and tools; rather it deals with changing the organization’s social system – work culture, thinking and behavior of the employees.

One of the secrets behind lean transformation of any organization is ‘Practice’. With regular practice of lean techniques, the management will get exposed to various experiences which will help them the lean management tackle immediate problems. Over time based these experiences can be codified and recognized as a system.

The key to any lean transformation is to create an understanding about the working of an organization or of a manufacturing unit. Usually it is seen that the manager of an organization is faces challenge while understanding and knowing the difference between Pragmatism and Positivism. While Positivism works in systems which can be analytically described and coming up with theory/knowledge about the system; Pragmatism generates an understanding about the how the theory actually works in an organization. Thus while Positivism is an objective observation of the theory without participating in it, Pragmatism is a subjective understanding of how the theory/ knowledge is effecting the employees. Therefore a better and in-depth knowledge of the working of one’s organization is essential for lean transformation of your organization.

Another essential feature of lean transformation is ‘lead with respect management’. Every organization which has its management style grounded on respect for the people it employs. This will motivate your employees to do a better job, encourage them to highlight the problems which they face while working and motivate them to make a career in your organization. This can be done by treating the employees as ‘assets’ to the organization, share information with them and build a dynamic atmosphere in the work place. On the other hand, managers/ management who do not care about respecting their employees often prevent them from doing a good job, forcing them to follow a scripted route instead of innovating developing their skills. Such managers carry a traditional view of the organization, restrict the sharing of information and build a static atmosphere at the work place.

The last and the most important secret of lean transformation is resilience. Resilience can be gained only when the entire system of your organization works within a limited operating range. Once the organization works regularly in a limited operating range, over time it gains resilience and comes out as stronger and a more productive manufacturing unit/ organization.

This is how you can transform your organization into a lean one. The qualities mentioned above emerge over a period of time through understanding and careful interventions by the lean management. Managers who do not adhere to these principles are sure to lag behind the long-term gains of the organization. Adhering to these qualities and working towards improvising it is the key to lean transformation of your organization.

Veena Shetty is the marketing manager in a well-established organization, Lean Management Institute of India , based at Bangalore. The company has been delivering high quality lean trainings for individual clients and corporates. She is a graduate from Mangalore university, and has worked with companies like Sify, TQM International Pvt. Ltd., a sister concern of Lean Management Institute of India. She has been part of core team of the first Indian lean summit held at Bangalore.

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