Creating a Lean Culture: 5 Ways to Make Lean a Way of Life

Process | Eric MacDonald| August 6, 2019

Implementing Lean practices can oftentimes produce positive results in the short-term, but many companies lack the sustained commitment for a successful full adoption of Lean. For longterm change to take root, a company needs to develop a Lean culture. With Lean as a way of life, a company can reap the benefits of employee retention, sales growth, cost savings, and continuous improvement. Here are 5 ways to create a Lean Culture:

Create a Clear Vision

Lean adoption requires significant and ongoing support from the highest levels of an organization. Catalyst Connection believes that “a successful lean deployment is 20% dependent on tool expertise and 80% dependent upon the leadership and culture in which they are utilized.” Lean starts at the top, and developing a clear vision for creating a lean culture is the first of many steps that executives must take to ensure success.

Provide Training

Creating a lean culture starts with vision, but in order for Lean to become a way of life there must be practical steps taken. There are many tools for success that a company can highlight. A Kaizen Blitz – a concentrated and intensive workshop that looks at process improvement – is oftentimes a great place to start for training purposes. This can be followed up with an established 5S practice (Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, Shine) to help efficiency and organization, and a look into A3 methodology to provide a simple and strict guide for problem solving. With Lean being in its very nature a continuous improvement approach, training will be revisited again and again to ensure a strong foundation.

Communicate Established Metrics

Catalyst Connection uses a Plan-Do-Check-Act approach in their Lean consulting. The Plan part of the process highlights current problems, and is often achieved through undergoing a Lean Assessment. This assessment can be used to provide a baseline for where a company is, and allows executives to establish key performance metrics to track growth and improvement towards the vision of creating a lean culture. Clearly communicating these metrics encourages employee participation and gives them an opportunity to share in the successes and failures of the process, and helps to make Lean a culture rather than a checklist.

Customer Collaboration

Focusing on the customer’s needs is a great way to actively develop a buy-in culture. Employees engage in collaborative partnerships with customers, sharing ideas and seeking out new ways to continuously improve the process. This develops a sense of pride from the employee, who deliver a superior product, and a sense of satisfaction and value from the customer, who receives exactly what they want because there was a collaborative nature to the process.

Make it a Way of Life

Creating a new culture in the workplace requires an identity shift. Committing to Lean practices, and reaping the full benefits of a continuous improvement approach, is largely dependent on leadership setting the tone. If the buy-in is real, and all areas of a company are focused and held accountable to the process, then a Lean culture can become a Lean way of life for any size manufacturer.

Catalyst Connection understands that Lean is not a one-size-fits-all approach. That is why creating a lean culture is so important – each company needs to embrace lean for themselves as a core component of how they operate, not simply as a list of rules or an unachievable ideology. As experts in the field, Catalyst Connection’s Lean Manufacturing Consulting seeks to set their partners up with a successful Lean culture as they pursue perfection and meet the needs of their customers.