We were talking in a Lean Workshop just before Christmas about the importance of winning commitment from the top of the organization to the whole concept of culture change. There were two strong views – one, that you needed ownership from the SMT, and the other, that installing Lean OD (Business Transformation) as a tactical rather than a strategic change tool – eventually would impact senior manager’s thinking.
I guess they are both right – but the changes and the results will be that much powerful and longer lasting if we can focus on gaining commitment from the senior levels first.
Change comes by Design, not by Accident
I was not surprised to find that the research under-pinning Lean implementation suggests a strong correlation between acceptance and ownership at the top, and successful installation demonstrated in a healthy order book and high customer retention and satisfaction. Of course, we would all like to see a direct line between Lean installation and the Balance Sheet, but that takes more than figures from a few quarterly results.
Deep Change, not Cosmetic
What is clear is that if Lean Business Transformation (LBT) is seen as a training exercise in controlling production processes solely, then any change in the rest of the organisation is going to be seen as cosmetic and only skin deep.
I made the point that an organization can make very little progress in implementing LBT without ownership from the top. Not everyone has to be on board – but there must be some commitment from other than manufacturing or operational staff.
Change to a Customer Centric Culture
I am a practical guy when it comes to change - I don’t expect everyone to jump up and down and praise LSSOD for being the panacea to cure all ills – but giving it a chance and recognising that LBT is not just about changing and improving production processes, but more about changing the culture to becoming customer centric, and people to assume the behaviours that support that culture.
It is not just ‘customer facing’ staff that should be equipped with LBT – what about those supporting staff who are ‘customer facing’ participating in continuous improvement?
Energy, Passion through Leadership
I guess that’s we concentrate on the Business Transformation element of the LBT formula. To bring about real change you need passion, behaviourial change and process improvement, but you will not get that without some degree of Leadership from the top.