Lean management has established itself as an effective concept for the sustainable development of companies. If implemented consistently, its potential is considerable. This is not least due to the fact that the employees are involved effectively in what is happening.

However, failed introductions do sometimes occur, for example if the project is started with enthusiasm but has petered out after a year and a half. The reason for this is that the decision makers did not have the necessary commitment to the new philosophy and did not insist that it be implemented. Alternatively, it might have started with enthusiasm and the area in question ultimately turned out to be a success. However, the overall savings remain modest because the program was not rolled out further. It may also not be possible to boost the performance of the entire system after its launch, despite potential partial successes. Critical steps may well have been missed.

The development – and thus the transformation – of existing organisations, processes and ways of thinking requires competent project management on the one hand and an approach that focuses on the relevant issues, uses the right tools and involves employees in the change processes on the other.

The starting point

The critical processes are the relevant aspects in this regard – or rather the steps that represent the biggest “levers” for production. Which steps in the production process limit the operating result? This can be a bottleneck, for example, because this determines the maximum production quantity. They can also be processes that no longer meet the requirements. The capacity gained or savings made with the project should benefit the primary product. On the other hand, it should be possible to achieve partial successes at an early stage.

A value stream oriented approach lends itself to this purpose. The method of value stream design initially creates transparency in the value stream. It shows the flow of material and information in a schematic form and highlights working principles and the relevant values. In the process, correlations, possible bottlenecks and weak points are identified. A start should be made wherever changes have the greatest impact on production output or profitability. In certain cases, this can also be the quality.

The means

Once the starting point of a lean project has been specified, the correct means must then be identified. They depend on the dimension of the project and its complexity. The dimension refers to the areas and levels that would be affected in a company. The complexity refers to the number of interfaces. These factors should result in an appropriate project organisation being chosen.

Operating principles, i.e. principles according to which sub-processes function (push, pull, or flow etc.), and methods (e.g. process mapping) must be defined based on the dimension/complexity and the scope of the project.

The employees

In a lean project, the employees play the decisive role alongside more technical aspects. Only a cultural change towards becoming a learning organisation creates the basis on which the search for/implementation of improvement steps becomes a constant. In this regard, change management does not go far enough. The will of the management to introduce lean management lays the foundation. The involvement/participation/training of employees in the change processes creates acceptance, while the deliberate orchestration, praising and rewarding for actions and successes can boost enthusiasm.

cape7 can support you with specific assistance in the areas of lean management and project management to help your project take off.