I have yet to come across a company during my 20 years of lean that could not benefit from the approach Toyota taught me over the years. The bigger issue is not the fact that the processes and team members need the help, but convincing leadership that they need it. Leaders often struggle to have the humility to look at their company and simply say “we need help” or specifically “I need help”. I am here to say that it is ok, and to share some simple reasons as to why it is time to start your lean journey.
1. You have been busy running the company!
First of all, I get it, you have been busy running the company for the last however many years and it has been very successful. Great work! I have the ultimate respect for leaders running successful businesses and always find myself learning as much from them as I am able to teach them. The fact that you and the business have been successful over the years does not mean that it isn’t time to start looking at new ways to do things. During this busy time of running the company, many new ideologies and philosophies have changed the way companies can compete on a global scale. Lean Manufacturing, specifically the Toyota based philosophies, have transformed many companies during their lean journey from near collapse to globally competitive. It is time to start looking at a new way to run the company.
2. We all need help sometimes!
One of the most important things that Toyota has taught me, is to remain humble and keep a learners mind set. As leaders, we often get forced into this world where we are so focused on telling people what we know, we forget that we still have a lot to learn. It is impossible to be able to keep up on every new technology, philosophy, leadership approach, marketing strategy, sales plan…..and everything else that is changing on a daily basis, much less be an expert on all of them. There are times when one of those areas becomes a big need for the company, so leaders need to get help, participate, and learn a new way to approach that part of the business…and that is ok.
3. Your competition has already started (and probably is beating you).
Toyota began developing the Toyota Production System in 1948 and it eventually came to the United States in the 1990’s where in many circles it was called “Lean Manufacturing”. Over the years, Toyota has had an open door to teach and help companies learn about the system and many companies have adopted the philosophies to drive success within their companies. There are also many companies that only tipped their toe in the water in terms of learning and implementing the system. If your competition is one of the companies that started learning about Lean and is still on track with their lean journey…you are probably reading this because you are looking for answers.
4. You owe it to everyone in your company.
One of the reasons I constantly refer to the Toyota Production System, despite the majority of people associating with the term “Lean”, is the fact that they are very different. Lean in many cases, is used as a cost-focused approach that will not be sustainable long term, where the Toyota approach many look very similar on the surface but is very people focused once you start learning about it. Lean lost a lot of the “human focus” that the Toyota system has embedded in their culture. If implemented correctly, Lean (Toyota system) can engage and empower an entire culture to help the leaders solve problems and achieve goals never attainable in the past. As the approach is learned across the organization, the company is developing a powerful group of employees that will continue to drive sustainable success in the future….which will help everyone.
5. You have been operating the same way for the last 10+ years.
If you looked at your Key Metrics or financials for the organization, are they much different than they were 5 years ago? 10? 20? Be honest…and ignore all of those excuses of the economy and how your customers have changed….blah, blah, blah. The reason that your company still has the same financial results, is roughly the same size, and isn’t any better performing today than it was in the past is because you are still operating the same today as you were then. You are probably still hearing about the same “problems” every morning in your start up meetings and employee meetings. Things will not change unless you take a drastically different approach and a Lean Journey, done as Toyota originally intended, can be the approach to help you see a difference next year.
6. You want to leave a legacy you are proud of.
Lean is a culture that, if implemented correctly, can transform the culture of a company in a way that employees are boasting about their workplace, leaders are giving tours about the great work done over the years, and giving speeches at industry conferences to discuss the lean journey and how it positioned their company for long term sustainable success. Most leaders have a desire to put their own stamp on a company…well a Lean culture can put your stamp on a company that will last generations.
And of course, we’re always willing to help with your lean journey. Just check us out at http://ehiipconsulting.com.