Friday, July 27, 2012

Don't be too Quick in Picking Your LEAN Champion!

Let your lean champion emerge. Too many companies make the mistake of crowning someone champion before actually witnessing firsthand who could be great at it. Experience tells me that the person in your organization who ends up being the most passionate about leading continuous improvement may not even be close to the person you would expect.

When your organization gets to the point where you are closing dozens of kaizan (A3) events each month, and there are always a dozen or more active A3s on the board, you will find that there will be a  need for someone to mentor, teach and coach full time. Most of my professional career was spent as a Chemist and Technical Manager, and as an Operations Manager. Once our lean momentum built to over 250 A3s (kaizan events with 70 employees) per year , I spent every working hour nurturing this learning organization as lean champion.

Currently, in developing the culture of my clients, there comes a time when we need to recruit someone to do what I do. That is, support A3 leaders, maintain the scorecard and dashboards that go with it, etc. My advice is to find this person in your organization. That person needs to be the one who has demonstrated that they are willing and capable of leading A3 teams, and have participated as team members on many more. When someone tells me they are interested in doing what I do, I tell them to "bring me the broomstick of the wicked witch of the west." That is, DEMONSTRATE that you understand what the role of lean champion entails by doing it-and doing it better than everyone else. In fact, make it a foregone conclusion when you are named lean champion that you are the logical, slam dunk choice.

It is way too easy to go out and recruit black belts, or people on the outside with certifications. Unfortunately, certifications can be had on line for as little as $300. Be patient, and allow the best of the best to emerge from the people who know your business best-your current team members. Then, don't be surprised if the person you would have least expected is the one who ends up driving your continuous improvement game plan.

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