Lean Resource Center

Roadmap for Lean

Nine Start-Up Steps

Starting and sustaining a lean effort requires planning and a stepwise implementation. The following nine start-up steps form a simple yet effective structure for introducing lean principles and practices to an organization.

1. Start with the Leadership Team

The Management Team must provide leadership by linking the lean initiative to the business strategy and communicating global measures.

2. Include Lean Champions in the Planning

Lean champions should be individuals well-versed in lean tools and techniques and have the authority within the organization to help lean teams overcome organizational obstacles.

3. Establish Working Subcommittees

Lean working subcommittees charged with coordinating such issues as Communications, Training, Project Support, and Best Practices are instrumental in keeping lean teams focused and on track.

4. Launch Communications

Regularly scheduled short lean communication sessions should be used to convey the why, what, who, and how of the lean initiative. In addition, provide on-going information in several formats such as your intranet, postings, and newsletters.

5. Provide Training

Developing a training plan to support a lean initiative includes determining who in the organization needs to know what, how the training will be delivered, how facilitators can turn training into true learning, and where to find relevant resources.

6. Use a Pilot to Start

Pick a well-defined value stream for your pilot workflow. Layout and create a work cell. Lessons learned from laying out and creating a work cell in the pilot will be used when developing a full roll-out plan.

7. Publicize and Leverage Successes

Publicize the tangible value each improved workflow and layout brings to the organization; encourage other workflows to use and improve on the lessons learned.

8. Develop the Roll-Out Plan

After completing the initial pilot and before involving the rest of the organization in the lean effort, step back and evaluate how the pilot went. Incorporate adjustments to the roll out plan.

9. Continually Evaluate and Adjust

As with any process, as lessons are learned, make improvements to the lean effort. Modify and strengthen the infrastructure; select new tools to add to the “arsenal,” develop improved methods to measure and communicate progress; and challenge cells to constantly get better, faster, and more productive.

Lean Implementation Roadmap

As you work through the nine start-up steps, revisit the eight elements of lean:

  1. Streamline the Value Stream (VSM, Workflows, Layouts)
  2. Workplace Organization (The 5S’s)
  3. Predictability & Consistency (DFA/DFM, QFD, MSA, GR&Rs, FMEAs, Mistake-Proofing, Problem-Solving, SPC, …)
  4. Set-up Reduction (SMED)
  5. TPM (Equipment Reliability)
  6. Visual Displays & Controls (including Andons, Kanbans, Color Coding, …)
  7. Support Processes (Purchasing, Scheduling, Accounting, Warehousing)
  8. Continuous Improvement (PDCA, COQ, DOE, …)

All eight elements of lean are needed since organizations cannot be truly lean without predictable and consistent products, reduced set-up times, reliable equipment, and changes to scheduling, purchasing and accounting practices to support the lean effort. When adding lean elements to the effort, incorporate them on an as needed basis, not a linear fashion.

People issues should always be addressed first.

A collaborative, team-oriented, customer-focused environment must be fostered.

Value stream mapping, workflows and layout usually follow addressing people issues.

  • Document a current state map.
  • Identify waste in the value steam map.
  • Develop a future state map to show what could be.
  • Use the future state map as the target for an improved workflow.
  • The improved workflow is converted into a lean layout.

The third step in lean implementation is usually introduction of the 5S’s.

After addressing people issues, value stream mapping, and the 5S’s, what’s next? Unfortunately, there is no one right answer; it’s different for every organization.