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Why small changes make a big impact in Lean implementation

Lean implementation

March 29, 2017

There’s no denying that Lean implementation is a major investment for any business. The time and resources required for a successful transformation are significant, as is the commitment needed from every member of the organisation. That said, it is often the little changes which create the biggest impact and ultimately determine the success of the programme.

Particularly at the start of your Lean journey, the quick wins and small gains really punch above their weight in terms of boosting acceptance and participation among your team, as well as reassuring senior management and even helping secure further investment from the board.

From the outset, focus on visible changes in your Lean implementation, which make a difference to as many people as possible in the organisation.  For instance, by going through the 5S process you can quickly build in a culture of continuous improvement as the workforce see a physical improvement in their surroundings.

The elements of 5S (Seiri, Seito, Seiso, Seiketsu, Shitsuke) should be implemented as part of the daily routine of everyone in the workplace and you can even take photographs to remind people of the visible transformation which has occurred. Just by tidying up the working environment, getting rid of useless or unnecessary items, implementing a simple storage and retrieval system and keeping the place clean, you can make a big impact visually and practically, with everyone feeling the instant benefits of decluttering.

It’s important to remember that some of these small improvements may not have a major cost benefit, so make sure you’re using appropriate measurement and evaluation techniques which accurately recognise their contribution in other ways.  Changes which people see and feel can be just as powerful as those you can count in monetary value, especially when you’re trying to bring about a culture change.

Making sure that everyone in your organisation buys into your Lean implementation is a battle of winning hearts and minds; do that successfully and the financial gains will naturally follow. The most expensive initiatives are the ones which are short-lived or never really get off the ground in the first place, as not only do they cost you money which is wasted, but they induce cynicism and reluctance in your workforce making it twice as hard to try again in the future.

I’d be interested to hear which small changes you’ve found most effective for Lean implementation in your organisation, so please share your thoughts on email to me at [email protected] or tweet @kumo_ian.

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