Tackling the Obstacles from Lean Implementation
"Lean" is a concept that aims to provide a culture of excellence within companies. A Lean company knows, by the involvement of its teams, how to address new challenges. It allows for quick decisions and a shared commitment around these decisions. Lean aims to be close to people in the sense that Lean seeks to make people accountable.
One goal is to motivate people to contribute more to be engaged. This approach of putting people at the center of process improvement is a new way of working that can result in broad organizational changes.
These changes can in turn give rise to obstacles:
• Changing business and organizations, uncertain benefits, and different responsibilities
• Fears around overwork, staff reductions, fear of failure
• Inertia, memory of past failures, other higher priority projects
Interestingly, Lean tools do not really address the difficulties associated with changes engendered by Lean initiatives. Success can be achieved by employing expanded management tools to manage change and resistance reactions. In addition to the change management tools, it is essential to support people, to help them cope with these changes at all levels of the company.
What does it mean to support managers and employees in change management in a company that deploys Lean methodology?
Coaching, by providing elements giving meaning and vision, will allow for a systemic view of the environment, understanding bottlenecks, potential resistance and thereby promoting engagement.
The emotional dimension is a key element of the coaching process. Indeed, the observable reactions of resistance to change are generally rational collective reactions such as perception of excessive workload. These observable reactions are actually only a small part of the iceberg that hides the emotional individual part such as power, career, influence... To successfully obtain commitments from people, it is important to help managers and employees to measure the impact of changes to come and identify potential resistance. The coaching of managers and employees is essential in the implementation of Lean within the company, because even if this concept aims at improving processes and working conditions, the implicit change will in the short term provoke resistance and fear.
How to Support this Change: Coaching
Coaching can take many forms: individual and team coaching. The goal of coaching will initially be to listen to the fears and doubts about the success of the Lean initiative. It will also be a moment of exchange to help the person gain confidence, find their own solutions to problems encountered throughout the Lean initiative. The team coaching will be sharing practical solutions, commonly called "Co-Development". This allows people to share their practices, their difficulties, and their loneliness in their leadership roles. Although Lean fosters a sense of belonging to a network of experts, we see a deep sense of loneliness in Leaders of Lean initiatives.
The role of the expert coach is to help the individual or the group to find its own solutions to difficulties encountered in the implementation of Lean initiative. The coaches are themselves Lean experts, they can also advise junior leaders and give support when they request it.
In conclusion, Lean is a great opportunity to link and join teams to develop efficient common processes and continuous improvement, but it requires specific attention and support to be given to managers and employees alike to address impacts associated with changes that will make the implementation of the concept ultimately succeed.