I often see restaurants and other businesses with signs outside advertising “Under New Management” and wonder why they need to advertise this to potential customers. It got me to thinking how Lean success requires new management as well to be successful.
I think local businesses hang announcements about a leadership change because they want to tell customers they will receive better service than before. Maybe they now offer better quality, improved customer service, superior product selection, friendlier employees because they are happier, safer conditions, or a combination of all. Lean transformations provide similar benefits but they require new management to achieve them.
The leadership team might be the same people as before, but their management practices will need to change. Remember, improved results were not being created and sustained under an old management model.
Below is not a comprehensive list, but here are some of the changes to traditional leadership:
- Decisions are made based on data and observation, not just charisma and intuition
- Leaders act as coaches and teachers to develop people to solve problems deeper in the organization instead of being the one to solve them
- The voice of the customer is primary focus
- Standardized work is followed by leaders and not just those in production
- Credibility is earned by practicing Lean and not just sponsoring it or speaking positively about it
- Ability to fire-fight is not a sign of great Lean leaders; removing root causes to prevent fires shows lean competency
- Use long-term thinking for selecting activities and strategies
- Practice Respect For People for all staff, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders
- Manage both the means and results by understanding how processes produce outcomes
Becoming “under new management” is not an easy task but it will help your organization remain competitive in the years to come.