Reader Question: Model Lines
One our our struggles has been defining the best process for implementing lean. We are establishing a model line in food services and are looking to begin spreading to other departments. Our model line is still in a very early stage of development and we have only 2 engineers to support the hospital. Our focus has been to begin with a lean management system as a starting point. Some of the questions we have are:
- How far to we take the model line before moving out?
- How much training should we do beforehand?
- If we start with the lean management, how developed does this need to be before it is self sustaining?
- What should our implementation process look like?
- And the inevitable question of how much is too much change? (rhetorical)
After initial cop out (“give me more time to think about this… there are no easy answers”), here is what I wrote:
A quick answer (and maybe this will seem evasive) is to go through the PDCA process. Seems like you can pull back? Try it and see if the processes are being sustained. If not, jump back in, identify the root cause of the failure (lack of training, lack of time — not really an excuse really — misaligned incentives, etc). I'd make sure the burden of sustaining is NOT on the internal consultants. It needs to be on the shoulders of the leadership chain.
If a VP is not making sure a director's organization is sustaining, you need to coach both the director and the VP. The internal consultants can only coach and advise. That's not an excuse for the consultants to not care about the results, but the burden can't be on them, its not fair and its a workaround if the consultant makes it work for them.
If the consultant is involved daily, pull back gradually and see what happens (communicating this plan and making sure requirements of the line leaders is clear).
You will learn eventually, for your organization and your culture, what normally works. But each dept may be different.
I can usually tell early on which managers will actually sustain. If someone blows off the responsibilities of a lean manager by saying “Oh, I'm a hand's off manager” and they won't change… You might need to replace them. Managers can't always turn around.
I know I didn't touch on every aspect of his question. The reader wrote back and said it was a good answer, and that, basically, it's hard to fight the temptation to look for “best practices” instead of going through the learning journey.
What would you add?