For lean to work in an organization it has to involve everyone every day. There may be other ways to create a lean culture, but this is one way we teach companies to practice lean.
It’s because it works.
And it’s because if you don’t involve everyone every day there are some very likely consequences.
- Management loses credibility, because lean is supposed to be “for the people” but isn’t.
- Lean loses impact, because a large population of employees isn’t expected to participate.
- Lean loses momentum, because now it’s being led by the elite few—who have too much to do all by themselves.
- Management burns out, because there’s too much to do if not everyone is involved.
So we teach companies to involve everyone every day even though it is a challenging thing to do.
Here are four ways to involve everyone every day.
1. Daily 3S
Doing a daily 3S of sweep, sort, and standardize is one of the first things a company pursuing lean can do. Everyone can be involved and it can easily be done every day.
What it will cost you is time, but employees will pay it back massively through the improvements and organization they bring to the workplace.
Remember that 3S isn’t just about sorting, organizing, and cleaning things up.
Aside from maintaining disciplined processes, 3S is an opportunity to pay attention to the work that’s being done and improving it.
If you’re not careful, 3S can become a mindless activity just like anything else. Make sure to stay thoughtful as you sweep, sort, and straighten.
For a quick reminder about how to inspect as you sweep–making your 5S/3S activities effective–this video about the humble coffee machine will serve you well.
2. Daily Morning Meeting
A Lean daily morning meeting isn’t just any morning meeting. And a meeting isn’t lean just because people are “standing” rather than sitting. There’s a lot more to it!
A daily morning meeting is a huge culture-building opportunity—but only if you structure it purposefully and lead it intentionally.
Since “more is caught than taught” and words could be ineffective in describing the difference between a morning meeting that builds culture and one that’s just ordinary, take a look at these video examples from FastCap.
Why do a morning meeting? (1.5 min)
What to do in the meeting? (4 min)
Morning meeting – full (53 min)
3. Daily Gemba
A daily gemba is management’s opportunity to stay grounded in the real work that’s getting done every day. Rather than managing through a computer screen, a gemba walk gets leadership out onto the floor—at the “real place”—to stay in touch and involved in daily activities.
Like anything else in lean, just walking around for 30 minutes a day can be ineffective if it’s not done with the right mindset and approach.
So what do you do on a gemba walk? In short, it is not about identifying negatives in the workplace. Do that, and you’ll quickly quench morale.
Instead, a gemba walk is about observing, engaging, and improving the flow of value through a business.
You cannot effectively involve everyone every day if you don’t know the people, the issues, and the opportunities.
An effective gemba walk is a good start to deepening your understanding.
For the specifics of what to do on a gemba walk, consider reading 8 Activities to Maximize your Gemba Walk.
4. Teach 2 Second Lean
2 Second Lean is a brilliant concept invented by Paul Akers at FastCap that lowers the bar for everyone in an organization and makes lean accessible to all.
The idea is to ask employees to make a two second improvement every day.
By asking for a two second improvement, you’re setting the bar low enough that everyone can participate and everyone can succeed.
Not only can it involve everyone, but it can involve them daily.
Two seconds may not sound significant or impressive, but by valuing even the smallest improvements you can get wide-spread participation.
Once you get the participation and creativity of the department or organization going, the quality and impact of improvements will increase.
Other improvements will outperform a two-second change but a healthy lean culture won’t stop valuing even the smallest contributions.
Involving everyone every day is a habit that management has to create. It has to be modeled. But there are easy ways to get everyone participating with lean, with these being four easy ones.