By November 16, 2005 1 Comments Read More →

Book Review: Creating a Lean Culture

A friend gave me a copy of a book he recommended: Creating A Lean Culture: Tools To Sustain Lean Conversions by David Mann.

Based on a first look, I am very impressed with the book. It focuses on creating a “lean management” culture that must work hand in hand with the “lean manufacturing” tools. Many of realize that using the “lean tools” is not enough, that you need a dramatic change in management habits and behaviors to sustain lean and truly reach your potential.

Chapter 3 is particularly noteworthy, “Standard Work for Leaders.” This is one of the few books, maybe other than Andy & Me and The Toyota Way series, that addresses this critical aspect of lean. Visiting NUMMI, they certainly emphasized that the behaviors of the team leaders and all management was critical to their success.

A few excerpts and key points (his words in bold and my paraphrasing and thoughts in italics).

  • “On this journey you learn to impose on yourself [as a leader] the same kind of disciplined adherence to process you now expect of operators in following their standard work.” Mann also points out that, while operators might be following standard work 100% of the time, a supervisor might only be following standard work 80% of the day. As you go higher up in the organization, there’s a reduction in how much of their day is standardized.
  • Mann emphasizes a hierarchy of audits and checks, where production status might be checked several times an hour by team leaders, checked by supervisors four or more times a shift, and by value stream managers (or plant managers) once or twice a shift. Each level above is auditing to make sure that the level below them is following THEIR standard work.
  • “The second benefit is that leader standard work quickly allows an organization to raise the game of the existing leadership staff, or highlight those unable to make the transition.” Basically, if a leader can’t follow their own standard work, and that’s been documented, it makes it easier to see who isn’t process focused and who might need replacing. Not all leaders can make the transition to a lean world.
  • According to Mann, the “Four Principal Elements of Lean Management” are:
    1. Leader standard work
    2. Visual controls
    3. Daily accountability process, and
    4. Leadership discipline

If you’ve been implementing “lean tools” and have been struggling, this book might be very helpful for your lean journey.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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