The Standards of Lean Management
Lean management must not be confused with lean manufacturing or lean office procedures. While lean manufacturing and lean office both refer to the principles and concepts that produce processes and workflows that improve quality, reduce or eliminate wastage, reduce cost and decrease lead time, lean management standards are all about how managers can inspire others to perform to bring about these changes.
Lean management is, therefore, not so much a matter of changing actual processes as it is about changing attitudes and cultures. This is why it is so important to have the right people in the right positions, because someone that is excellent at following instructions and producing quality work is not necessarily going to be great at motivating others to do the same. A certain set of standards are required for lean management to be successful and they are as follows:
Lean Management Encourages Communication and Respect
If a workforce is to be inspired to strive for increased value along the entire production process, it must ensure that those who are expected to follow procedure to the highest levels understand and respect the reasons behind their actions. A culture of openness is fostered from the top down. Employees are encouraged to ask questions and to always seek knowledge. Information becomes not something that is hoarded but is shared by all involved. This creates mutual respect that leads to high levels of quality.
Lean Management Advocates Learning From Failures, Not Hiding Them
The overriding drive of lean manufacturing is to reduce wastage and it might seem counter-intuitive to place a high value on learning from mistakes because mistakes can be viewed as wasted effort. While lean management standards do not promote making mistakes, they also do not encourage sweeping them under the rug for fear of condemnation. In lean management, mistakes are viewed as opportunities for improvement and the most important thing is to discover them quickly so they can be turned into lessons, instead of festering into sore spots.
Lean Management Means Promoting the Right People
Lean managers are charged with the responsibility of identifying the strengths and weaknesses in others so they can assign the right people to the right tasks. Promotion is used appropriately as a reward for excellence and as a recognition of potential instead of as a natural progression that occurs after time served.
Lean Management Values Responsibility
A company that strives to emulate the successes of lean manufacturing; namely increased quality and reduced wastage, cost and lead time, must place a high value on individual responsibility. Therefore, lean managers need to make individuals accountable for the work they are supposed to handle and should be able to identify weak points along the value chain.
Lean management standards are essentially the principles of pure leadership.
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