Lean Strategies For Lean Leaders And Their Teams

 


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Dealing With Resistance: Kaizen 1 - Building More Lean Buy-In

Building Lean Buy-In:

Step 1: Discovery
Know your audience very well - Assess the business goals, needs, and priorities of those you are trying to persuade to come on side. Make sure you select the key benefits of Lean that address those particular goals, issues and needs.

Remember that people do things for their reasons not yours. Also be aware of the preferences that people have for styles of presentation and persuasion. Some people want facts and data, others want to see that the vision is well conceived. Some want to spend a lot of time going over the details and some will just want you to cut straight to the bottom line - “If we do this now, we will save $XX within this fiscal". If you have had mixed or even poor success at getting buy-in (from above, from peers, from your staff), chances are that you haven't done your homework and researched what their issues are. You may also have presented your case in a way suitable for you but not for others.

Make sure your style is a good fit for the way others work - this is particularly true when persuading up and across the organization. The key to good discovery is your ability to listen well. People will always tell you or signal their needs; it's up to you to make sure you hear them! When you match Lean benefits to both strategic and specific business needs you get sustainable buy-in.

Step 2: Stay results focused
There is a vast resource out there for you to tap into for Lean metrics, proven results, statistics, success stories, and bottom line performance improvement measures. Check the Internet, check your local bookstore, check with Lean associations in your area and, above all, go to see other companies farther down the Lean road than you are. Have this data available for your meetings and one-on-one discussion opportunities.

There are people who like to see the raw data and talk about numbers, while others prefer to hear real stories from the shop, laboratory or office floor. Suit your presentation to their preferences - this cannot be said often enough! It is so easy to become a Lean enthusiast and forget that others need to come on board in their own ways and their own time.

Be patient, don't try to give someone all of the information in one fell swoop - pace yourself and adapt to the needs of others. Some will want a quick presentation and prefer to make equally quick decisions. Others will want some time to mull over the data, to think of what might happen during implementation. These people are extremely valuable once on board. They will be the folks with the good questions, the interesting solutions, and they will be the ‘stayers’ for the long term. Just make sure you give them time to reflect and come back with their questions. Do not try to ‘muscle’ or force a decision before someone is ready.

Patience, not pressure, is your best friend in creating buy-in! Lean is all about ‘pull’ not ‘push’.

Step 3: Use tools that really help
One of the most effective ways of getting buy-in is exposing people to Lean training. Bring your major players to one-day training sessions that will orient them to the Lean methodology. This approach often brings significant levels of buy-in. If you can swing it, get the key people you need on board to actually participate in the Enterprise Value Stream Mapping TM exercise for your initial value stream. This is a huge plus. These people will see the benefits first hand, in the context of their own operation. Anyone taking part in a VS exercise will see the waste, see its impact on operations, and also see the opportunities that Lean provides to remove that waste and yield substantial savings.

If you are having a real struggle trying to understand what people need to hear and how they need to hear it, consider working with an advisor using some behavioral and values assessment tools. These are quick, user friendly, group oriented tools that can save time and energy with key insights. They help working groups understand why someone can't seem to hear what you say when the same message seems to work just fine elsewhere.

Using these tools also eliminates a lot of cultural waste imbedded in conflicts (both passive and active) that come from misunderstanding the motivations of others. Joe or Sally may not be trying to sabotage your initiative; they may simply need to hear about it in a different way.

Sometimes getting help is the smartest thing you can do!

Step 4: Never stop reinforcing the buy-in
Test for understanding and agreement on an ongoing basis. Make sure you continue to actively listen for any concerns or doubts about the Lean implementation as it goes forward. Work on these issues together and do not let them build into significant roadblocks by ignoring or dismissing them. Every concern you can successfully address, every concerned person who feels you really heard what they said, is a huge plus in building an ongoing committed Lean team across the enterprise. Remember those needs and issues from your first round of discovery. Check in from time to time to see if they have changed. You must commit to regular updates on the Lean implementation. If your results are not in synch with the business goals, needs, and issues of your audience (particularly senior management and peer departments) then your efforts could be dismissed as ‘nice to have’ but not ‘essential’.

Keep your eye on the ball in reporting results - Lean is about meeting business goals faster and better!

Step 5: Never be afraid to start again
From time to time, Lean crusaders will make mistakes and find their ideas marginalized in the corporate competition for resources and air time with executives. Don't despair, go back to steps 1 and 2 and start again. Find out where you made your mistakes and learn from that. Move forward with confidence. If you quit when the going gets rough, you'll never reach your Lean Future State.

Lean has helped thousands of companies worldwide to increase profits, grow competitive market share and add new business lines. The data is there to prove it - it's up to you to make sure your colleagues get that data in ways that suit their needs and preferences.

Lean is about learning and growing - that applies to both the technical and the human side of the Lean enterprise!

_ About The Author:
Ms. Beaumont has particular expertise in change management, communications, restructuring, coaching and motivation. She has been a senior executive in the broadcast technology, consumer goods/services, and educational sectors.

She is a dynamic facilitator for change management programs at both the team and senior management level. Equally familiar with union and non-union environments, Melanie's approach to leadership in a change environment is pragmatic and results focused.

Melanie Beaumont
Senior Advisor
Lean Advisors Inc.

Lean Advisors Inc. (LEAD) provides Lean Training And Lean Implementation support to organizations of all sizes and sectors including healthcare, office, service, manufacturing, mining, aerospace, food processing, high tech.

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