Lean Roadmap Newsletter
Becoming a World Class Enterprise 
4th Edition
Our discussion on "How to Get More Out of Your Lean Implementation" from edition #2 continues with:
1) All Value Added Work is a Process
2) Empowerment, When it is Preceded by Leadership and Communication = Lean Success

All Value Added Work is a Process

by Vince Fayad 
All value added work is a process. People receive information and/or material from an internal or external supplier. They then perform a series of activities with this information and/or material. As work is being performed in a World Class Enterprise, the majority of these activities would create value from the customer's perspective. Looking at this from a systems point of view, we have inputs, throughputs, and outputs. All in-puts, throughputs, and outputs have requirements associated with them. There are Customer Requirements, Process Requirements, and Supplier Requirements. In order to do quality work, we must have conforming inputs from our suppliers and processes that are in statistical control and capable of producing a quality product or service as perceived by our customers.  

Process Model 

World Class Enterprises have a culture or a belief that states, "We do not have people problems; we have process problems." Most organizations tend not to take the time to clearly establish and communicate customer requirements. They have processes that are inconsistent and unpredictable. They also tend to beat down their suppliers on price and not focus on providing their associates with quality inputs so they can do their jobs right the first time. Then these same organizations blame their people when things are not done right the first time.
Stop blaming your people and start attacking processes. It is open season on processes. Create a culture that communicates that it is okay to attack processes; not people.
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Empowerment, When it is Preceded by Leadership and Communication = Lean Success 

by Larry Rubrich
As we discussed in the 1st Edition of our newsletter, the four components of a successful Lean implementation, which includes Lean Culture, are shown in the following figure:
Lean Components

As shown in the figure, the four steps required to develop this Lean Culture in support of a World Class Enterprise are: 

  1. Leadership
  2. Communication
  3. Empowerment
  4. Teamwork

The steps must be in this order.  

Unfortunately, many top Leadership Teams try to jump to empowerment and teamwork by immediately doing Kaizen Events at the start of their Lean initiative before establishing their Leadership and Communication initiatives.     

Remember, every organization has hundreds of problems that need to be solved, and not all problems can be fixed at once. Communication from the Leadership Team makes sure everyone knows which improvements to make first. The goal of communication in an environment where empowerment and teamwork are in development is to make sure everyone knows what's going on so they all pull in the same direction. 
Once the team members know what part of the play they must accomplish (from the organization's team playbook/Policy Deployment activities) for the team to be successful, empowerment allows them to use 100 percent of their creativity, skills, and knowledge in doing their job without fear of retribution or second guessing by management. 
Empowerment is not something we do to another person. The best we can do, as leaders, is to provide an environment where empowerment can occur. Leaders cannot just announce or proclaim that people are "now empowered." They must be proactive in establishing an environment conducive to an empowered workforce. Here are cultural elements of an empowering environment:
  • Associates are recognized as the organization's most valuable resource
  • Teamwork is utilized throughout the organization
  • Decision making is delegated
  • Openness, initiative, and risk taking are promoted
  • Accountability, credit, responsibility, and ownership are shared (ownership means psychological ownership, not stock certificate ownership)

It is important to understand that associate empowerment is an evolutionary process, not a revolutionary one.


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Next Issue:

  • Misusing Value Stream Mapping 
  • Kanbans are Powerful!
Larry Rubrich
WCM Associates LLC
2009 WCM Associates
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