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Implementing Lean Management Successfully

Summertime is travel time - despite Corona, many plan a vacation trip. Because of Corona, the trip is often planned much more intensively than usual – this is also the case for me. During the vacation travel preparations, I notice some parallels to another trip - that of Lean Management implementation. In the final part of the Lean Management series, I'd like to show you the parallels and, in the process, explain how to make the Lean journey a successful one that you'll look back on with pleasure years later.

Prepare the trip

The vast majority of travellers begin their planning by choosing a suitable destination. It must be adapted to the individual needs of the vacationers: Some like it warm, others prefer to travel to cooler areas. Some look forward to relaxing days at the beach, others want to experience a different place every day. It is also essential that the Lean journey begins with the selection of a destination tailored to the needs of the company. For this, the actual situation must first be comprehensively recorded and the target state derived. The goal must be aligned with the company's objectives and communicated to all stakeholders. Management must stand behind the goal, understand the route to it and support it.

After all, the route is just as important as the destination; as is well known, many roads lead to the destination. When planning vacations, the right means of transportation must be chosen and, if necessary, booked, and stopovers must be planned. When planning the implementation of Lean, the various stopovers (sub-goals) must be defined and carefully coordinated. The company-wide introduction of 5S is always one of the most suitable and proven goals for the first stage. Careful planning of the various sub-routes, including time specifications and responsibilities, is essential.

Although tour guides are rather out of fashion today, they are indispensable in the Lean journey. The implementation of Lean is a project that is doomed to failure without a project manager who keeps an eye on everything. The project manager doesn't even need to be particularly knowledgeable about Lean methods. Much more important are assertiveness, knowledge of change management and acceptance by the employees. The selection of the right personnel as well as a suitable team to support the journey leader is often decisive for success. The selected team must create its own organization that enables intensive exchange and reporting to the project manager and within the team.

Just as necessary for the trip are final preparations, whereby one or the other is often forgotten: Is the passport up to date? Can money be withdrawn abroad with the credit card? Does everyone have their vaccination certificate? Is enough sunscreen packed? In addition to the rather obvious preparations "choosing the destination and the route", there are also some further preparations to be made on the lean trip in order to arrive at the destination as planned:

  • Scope for action and decision-making authority must be defined.
  • Basic key figures for measuring statuses and changes must be introduced.
  • The principle of visual management must be known and introduced.
  • The necessary resources (personnel, time, money) must be made available.
  • Fast implementation must be possible, e. g. with a CIP workshop room.
  • Employees must be qualified and trained.

Together is the best way – making a journey as a team

The Lean journey is not one that you take alone, but one in which everyone is on board. Top management, executives, operational staff - everyone participates in the journey, and they do so with conviction and motivation. To ensure that the journey is a success, all participants must therefore adhere to a few rules:

  • Be open to change! Question conventional practices!
  • Focus on how something can be done, not on why it can't be done!
  • Do not strive for 100% perfection, but implement ideas quickly!
  • Correct mistakes immediately!
  • Spend as little money as possible on improvements!
  • Problem-solving is the best teacher - find true causes!
  • Rather use the experience of 10 employees than only the special knowledge of one!
  • Ideas for improvement are limitless!
  • Successes are celebrated!

With these success factors, a Lean journey becomes a successful one, during which a new culture is learned and appreciated – the lean culture. In this culture, where the company finds itself at the end of a successful journey, all employees are problem solvers, proud of their work and they have internalized how Lean strengthens the company's competitiveness. A destination that is well worth the journey!

Unsure how to plan your Lean journey? You are already in the middle of it, but need an experienced tour guide or help to reach the next intermediate goals? We are happy to support you on your personal Lean journey. Contact us!


Shari Widmann 

Consultant I IMIG Germany

For further information please contact us either by mail: or by phone: +49 7152 / 928 460.

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