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There are a wide range of models and principles around operating a lean business. While being ambitious and driven are admirable, there are many challenges and pitfalls that could undermine your genuine interest in rapid growth.

The primary objective of ‘lean’ is sustainable progress, which may include reducing errors, eliminating unnecessary costs, raising performance, targeted augmentation, customer experience optimization etc.

A high level framework:

  • Build Value
  • Create Impact
  • Increase Velocity & Pace of Production
  • Perform Project  and Priority Mapping
  • Streamline Processes
  • Reduce Workflow Inefficiencies
  • Lower Costs

Actions to adopt: 

  • Always require a purpose, objective and quantifiable goal
  • Concentrate on a set of activities that is narrow in scope
  • Cost out activities in advance
  • Be wary of processes and promotions that sacrifice margin
  • Seek value-based and scalable solutions with no long-term lock
  • Continually evaluate machine and labor non-productive ‘wait’ times
  • Apply JIT (Just in Time) inventory management
  • Set up system architecture for interoperability between departments
  • Endeavor to reduce ‘time and distance’ taken through production
  • Focus on projects and promotions that have demonstrated a positive ROI
  • Be selective on paths and channels – examine, practice and review
  • Use open-source data to identify opportunities to increase your reach
  • Create processes that shorten the timeframe to delivery
  • Measure all outcomes, then benchmark, test and analyze results
  • Design sequential production within agile sprints
  • Hypothesize based on sample experiments, then push to larger scale trials
  • Actively look for cues and signals that validate your assumptions
  • Automate touch points, notices and incentives
  • Reduce resource intensities through cloud, open source and shared options
  • Perform continuous Integration
  • Set capacity and load thresholds, then be firm on not exceeding them
  • Eliminate non-value add work
  • Set up a preventative maintenance program to cut down on unplanned breakdowns
  • Defect detection – be quick to find a root cause
  • Enact simulations for critical insights and observations
  • Dedicate time and talent to ongoing iterations, testing and validation
  • What ifs – plan and prepare for expedient pivots
  • Eliminate carry-forward costs
  • Build in disciplines while still embracing flexibility in practices and performance
  • Develop skills and delegate more responsibilities, allowing teams to work smart and autonomously

Avoid:

  • Splintered motivations and objectives
  • Broad and sweeping changes 
  • Too many chiefs
  • Lengthy approval periods
  • Maximum production load
  • Permanency (you need to formulate alternatives and contingency plans)

Be thoughtful in how you introduce a lean model and be upfront on your expectations. For real momentum, strategize on how best to achieve your vision, allowing the team to participate in the decision-making. Without a consensus on lean obligations, frustrations may bubble up.  

The aim is to achieve a collective mindset that commits to implementing lean concepts and prioritizes its methodology in order to make advancements that are seen in all areas of the business.

The Japanese call it Kaizen (continuous improvement of practices and efficiency). Both in work and in life, that’s a good philosophy to have.

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