As a Lean Practitioner, What Your CEO Wants You to Know
While we see today many companies claim to be doing Lean, unfortunately what we find is there are few companies that have created the kind of clarity that Hillenbrand has expressed. What is all too common is that many senior managers perceive Lean as tactical and not strategic. Lean is for manufacturing, and manufacturing examples do not apply easily into business processes. Lean training programs emphasize tools, with little emphasis
on desired cultural changes. When Lean successes occur, they are not widely communicated, and those that are publicized are seen with suspicion. Managers at companies with Lean programs think of it as an expense and not an investment. People are sent to training and sites appoint a Lean specialist to satisfy a corporate requirement. Managers continue to be held accountable for results, not the means to achieve results, so most delegate Lean leadership somewhere down in the organization. A recent general manager’s comment captures the widespread sentiment: “I won’t get fired for not doing Lean; I will get fired for missing a delivery.” So what we find is Lean practitioners are spending their time in limited areas of the company and, as a result, do not have the impact on company performance that management would like to see or gets their attention.