What if you are not in a leadership role at your company, yet are committed to implementing Lean practices? Often, employees know that waste is occurring before executives realize that there is a problem. Companies can even collapse without anyone in a leadership position recognizing Lean as a solution.
If you are a non-manager who wishes to implement Lean management, it may be possible to get recognition and support for your ideas, provided you are willing to devote time and effort to this pursuit. Start with this technique.
How to Implement Lean Management From the Bottom Up
Make One Simple Proposal
Locate one way that established procedures are forcing you to create waste. If you are an automotive technician, is it necessary to walk across the room for materials that could easily be placed within reach as you enter the garage area? If you are working with heavy equipment, does its maintenance schedule take it offline at high volume times, wasting productivity?
Once you have found a single, easily identifiable waste that directly affects your position, propose to change it. Work with your immediate supervisor, using facts and figures to illustrate the problem and make a Lean suggestion. Ask your supervisor if you may implement this change for just 90 days and report back. In most cases, if you have suggested a change that does not require higher-level authorization or affect other workers, you will receive permission.
Track Lean Success
Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for this change. Is it the speed at which cars get in and out of your bay? The number of parts manufactured per hour? Net Promoter Scoring from customers who work specifically with you? Whatever your KPIs are, they should be easily tracked and have a definitive impact on the company’s bottom line.
Now, track these KPIs daily as you implement your Lean change. Make sure that your results can be independently verified. You will likely need to retrain yourself, especially if you have been doing a fast-paced job for months or years and your “muscle memory” retains old ways of doing tasks. Once you have internalized your change, you should see substantial improvement.
Present Your Results
After 90 days have passed, schedule time to present your results. Use graphs, charts, and possibly even a live demonstration, if applicable. You want to make your supervisor think, “Wow! Now how can we get the same results throughout my department?”
Advocate for Further Implementation
If you have succeeded in the previous step, your manager will give you permission to make your change permanent. Next, suggest methods of implementing it across the board, so that other individuals within your department are benefiting from Lean practices as well.
Offer to attend meetings and act as an advocate for this change with senior management, or to prepare materials for your manager’s presentations at these meetings. Change from the bottom is slow, but over time, with dedication and persistence, you can illustrate the benefits of Lean practices and strongly encourage a Lean transition, even if you are not a manager yourself.