Organisational Structure and Responsibilities In Lean Management

Posted November 1st, 2011 in Lean Manager, What is Lean Management by Vivek Naik

I thought it would be a good idea to define organizational structure , so that every one is on the same page when we discuss this in context to other lean management tool and principles . This will also help us identify if there are better ways that I am not aware at this moment.

This structure is just the top level general structure , you will see in a lean company , it basically consist of :

  1. Top level
  2. Middle Level
  3. Line Managers
Top Level : Consists of CEO, Owners , VP , Directors etc . They are involved in strategy deployment.
Middle Managers : these are the managers who are involved in solving problems . They form an important link connecting strategy to the day to day management of the company .
Line Managers : these may be the Supervisors , Team leaders who ensure standard work is followed and continuous improvement by Kaizen. They are responsible for the processes that provide value to the customer.
Now  their role in the lean management system .The exact distribution of these responsibilities may vary in different organizations and some cross over of the responsibilities is also possible.
LEAN MANAGERS RESPONSIBILITIESWhat are your thoughts? If you are a lean company how is your organization structure setup?

12 Cultrural Enablers to Start with Lean Management

Posted October 18th, 2011 in What is Lean Management by Vivek Naik

Lean management is usually fully realized in the final state of lean transformation. If you are trying to implement tools of lean management and do not have a culture that support lean thinking, your success may be very limited. What are some of the cultural enablers that help you build the foundation for lean transformation and ultimately lead to lean management?

  • Leaders should show humility and respect their subordinates and peers.
  • Senior leadership should be willing to accept lean as a philosophy and not just another project for cost cutting
  • Managers be trained and committed to solving problems
  • People in the organization should feel secure about their job
  • Daily informal/formal feedback should be facilitated at team and individual level to align the performance
  • Suggestion system for all employees to provide feedback and ideas for improvement
  • All information required to make decision or track performance should be shared with people who need it
  • People need to be empowered to make decisions and solve their problems
  • Training should not be done only once but should be conducted on regular basis
  • Senior leaders needs to be trained for mentoring young and future leaders
  • People need to be trained to use visual controls
  • Leaders need to be trained to use Gemba walks as mentoring / training tool and also as a tool to find waste and problems related with flow of materials and information

Do you have anything to add to this? What according to you is the most important cultural enabler.

Qualities of Lean Manager- Responses from the Community

Posted October 16th, 2011 in Lean Manager by Vivek Naik

Here are responses from people on various groups on linkedin which contributed thier thoughts about Qualities of the lean manager. I thought it would be great idea to have it all on one page for  readers benefit.

Jacob Zapolnik • Great outline of the first 8 Qualities of a Lean Manager. I would also add:

-Is always on the look out for learning opportunities
-Will involve the key stakeholders in discussing/creating change
-Acts as a teacher to cascade knowledge of lean methodologies

Tim Jones PMP • “An important one is to train and lead others to practice lean. To give credit to others and to encourage others in the practice of lean.”

Richard Starie • Don’t lay people off after you start to collect data. They will not participate if you do!

Sukri Karim • Lean Manager need to be pushy but respectful..being a change agent is not easy.

Kevin Yamada • A Lean Manager:
– Is continually learning about new and different approaches.
– Leads by example and is a teacher/coach.
– Is data driven.
– Sees the big picture and deals well with the details.
– Should work him/herself out of a job.

Comments on the post:

Raj •Lean manager shall have the qualities of Systems-Thinking

Corrado Pellecchia •I would add to the first point “… collecting and analyzing facts and data on which decisions will be based.”

Book:Toyota Production System: Beyond Large-Scale Production

Posted October 11th, 2011 in Lean Management Books by Vivek Naik

In this book, Taiichi Ohno — inventor of the Toyota Production System and lean manufacturing — shares the brilliance that sets him apart as one of the most disciplined and ingenious thinkers of our time. Combining his frank insights with a thorough analysis of Toyota’s attempts at lean production, Ohno’s book explains how lean principles can improve any production-oriented enterprise. A chronological and thoughtful description of just-in-time and lean manufacturing, this work a must read for all students of human progress. On a more practical level, it continues to provide inspiration and instruction for those seeking to improve efficiency through the relentless elimination of waste.

The Two Pillars of Lean Management

Posted October 3rd, 2011 in Lean Manager, What is Lean Management by Vivek Naik
Pillars of Lean Management

The Two Pillars of Lean Management

Lean management derives its values from 2-key principles of lean; Respect for People and Continuous Improvement.

Continuous Improvement:  

A lean manager is focused on solving problems incrementally. Each solution is an experiment which helps in the learning process and paving the path to the next level.Small improvements followed by time of stability and then again a small improvement , is a cycle that is preffered in a lean environment . this form of  small changes are easier to manage without much disruption to the suppoorting proceses like material supply to the line.

Respect to People :

As easy as it seems this by far has been the most difficult things to understand . It has often been described as an important quality  that any lean manager should posses . A lean manager respects people by giving them the authority to solve their problems .This way lean manager uses the knowledge of the people who actually add value to the process and also able to get buy in by engaging all the employees . This does not mean that a lean manager completely disconnects himself from problem solving. He guide his people to solve their problems by asking the right questions ,till they find the root cause.


Book:The Gold Mine: A Novel of Lean Turnaround

Posted September 26th, 2011 in Lean Management Books by Vivek Naik

The Gold Mine

This is an excellent novel about Lean Turnaround which deals with the challenges of technical and human side  of lean implementation. If you have liked “The Goal” you will surely love this!

8 Qualities of Lean Manager

Posted September 22nd, 2011 in Lean Manager by Vivek Naik

A Lean Manager is a person who has trained himself at lean thinking by practicing the principles of lean manufacturing. He has developed the right mindset which is essential for the developing and sustaining the lean initiatives of the company. The Lean Manager is the key for the Lean Management to evolve organically within the organization. Here is a list of Qualities that I think any Lean Manager should have:

  1. Lean Manager is a problem solver; he always tries to solve the problem in scientific way
  2. He does not like to sit at his desk but when the problem arises he goes the source (Gemba) and finds the root cause by asking questions
  3. A lean manager does not randomly use tools; he chooses the right tool for the means of solving a problem on gemba
  4. A lean manager always shows respect to all people
  5. A Lean manager is not a treat lean as a project, but as something to be practiced daily in search of perfection.
  6. Lean Manager is not afraid of failure, he treats each solution as an experiment to learn more and get one more step closer to the ideal state
  7. Lean Manager always questions the status quo, he tries to rethink problems and learn by practicing
  8. Lean Manger uses Socratic Method to stimulate lean thinking in others

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What are your thoughts? can you add something to this list?



Book: The Lean Manager: A Novel of Lean Transformation

Posted September 21st, 2011 in Lean Management Books by Vivek Naik

The Lean Manager: A Novel of Lean Transformation, by lean experts Michael and Freddy Ballé

What is lean management?

Posted September 21st, 2011 in What is Lean Management by Vivek Naik

Lean management is an important part of lean thinking. As we implement lean in any organization the traditional way of managing does not guarantee right focus nor help sustaining lean initiatives. If no action is taken to change the way we manage process, people and products we are likely to see failure of lean implementations. Many people on lean journey fail to apply lean in a holistic manner. Usually they start with applying tools without proper guidance and leadership the company cannot move to the next level. Thus a management system that specifically meets the needs of a transforming organization is very much essential.

So what is traditional management and why does it fail to sustain Lean?
One of the main characteristic of traditional management is that it is resulted oriented. Is it good or bad to be result oriented? It is not bad to have goals but once people stop caring about how to get there rather and only focus on end result, that’s when we have a problem. This leads malpractices like expediting orders, over production, and excess inventory. You must be wondering how management leads to these problems. If you are in any manufacturing organization you will be able to relate to this problem better. Here are few examples:

  • How many times have you expedited the order by doing overtime just because you had to meet the same day delivery goal.
  • Have you kept producing even when there was no demand just because just because you needed to show better utilization of the operators?
  • Do you keep excess inventory to hide the inefficiencies related to your process or machine breakdowns?

These are just few but are common problems that will help you relate to the problem created by mismanagement. The problems are so easily accepted as a part of our daily life, that we hardly question these practices. Only with right mindset and proper management you can facilitate the change.

What is lean Management?
Lean is all about customer focus. Value is defined by the customer and we develop and maintain processes to provide this value. Processes are run by people. Only support and proper leadership and guidance you can drive your people to continuously improve the processes that add value to the customer. The management system that helps you to achieve this is a Lean Management system. Lean Management system uses various tools to connect the purpose (Providing value to customer) to the process and people. Some of the lean management tools which are commonly used are Leader standard work, visual control boards, and daily accountability.
The tools itself are not effective unless used with right mindset. There is a lot of work needed to be done at individual level for the mangers to become lean managers. To start with lean management we have to start developing managers in to “Lean Managers”. What are you doing to become a lean manager?


Book: Lean Thinking

Posted September 21st, 2011 in Lean Management Books by Vivek Naik