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Ten commandments of a successful Lean Transformation



“Continuous improvement is better than Delayed Perfection”


A Lean Transformation is the journey by which a company becomes the Lean entity that it yearns to be – one that continually assesses customer needs, delivers ever better customer value and does both with minimal expenditure of a company’s materials, time and effort.


Lean transformation enables companies to make that fundamental shift from surviving to thriving by removing those organisational structures, practices, and modes of thinking that inhibit the efficient delivery of value


A successful Lean Transformation engages your entire organisation. The result is a happier, healthier organisation, with reduced employee turnover and a better bottom line.


Based on our experience, we have found the following ten components to be essential for success:


  • Include both a technical component (get results) and a behavioural component (change people’s behaviour).

  • Build from either a burning platform or a shared aspiration or vision. For more lasting results, build from a shared aspiration.

  • Start small with manageable projects that are similar in scope.

  • To gain momentum, start with a project that aligns strategic goals and performance goals. Have a strategy and stick to it.

  • Hire a sensei – an outside facilitator who specialises in change or Lean, not a specialist in your industry. You want someone who is an expert in the process, not the subject matter.

  • Change is non-linear. Some steps forward and some steps back.

  • Change takes time. A true makeover of a company with 100 employees can take two to three years.

  • Select resonant leaders from within your company to lead the change. These are people with high emotional quotients (EQ’s) and a high level of competence in their job. The Idea Smith Consulting can help you find and coach the right people.

  • Be inclusive of people from as many parts of the company as possible and inform everyone of what you are doing and why.

  • Be flexible with your methodology. Don’t be married to specific Lean methods or Six Sigma tools. Do what works for you and your people. Even the best methodology will fail if your company is not ready for it.

Why do most Lean transformations fail ?


It because the transformation simply doesn’t go deep enough. Organisation implement surface – level changes, perhaps adopt some Lean lingo (Kaizen, Kanban, QCO, TPM etc) and call their transformation complete.


Lean transformation is largely cultural and cannot be faked. The power of Lean is only realised when concepts like, continuous Improvement, eliminating waste, respect for people and relentlessly focusing on value creating becomes a part of the organisation’s DNA.


How do I know if my Lean transformation is headed in the right direction ?


Some of the key cultural shifts that have to occur if you’re organisation is truly into Lean include:

Internalising Lean thinking

Prioritising the creation of value over the generation of profit

Embracing experimentation and failure

Celebrating learnings over “wins”

Committing to a data- driven approach to decision making

Encouraging horizontal communication; amplifying voices across the org.

Encouraging transparency and accountability; discouraging politics.


Getting started with Lean – If you’re looking for a quick fix, Lean transformation is not going to be your answer. But if you’re ready to put in the effort to truly transform your organisation from within – we should be talking.


Connect with The Idea Smith today to find out how to make your lean transformation successful.


Nimish Dave

+91 9650733993 ♦ nimish@theideasmith.net


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