How Lean Transformation Delivers Growth

Jul 28, 2017

To think about this properly we need to go back to the improvement strategy. Without one it can become unclear as to why the improvement should be made which has a damaging effect on engagement.

So we should ask: “What does the business look like if we deliver the improvement, make the savings and are more effective as a result?”

To describe growth as just having a bigger organisation is to over simplify it. Growth can mean many things.  Increasing margins, wider market reach, expanded services…or even growth of our capabilities and staff could all be considered a positive outcome. So even in more challenging “cost down” environments then growth of capability to survive could be a very positive outcome.

Enabling teams to visualise this means that you can build a sustainable model. Without this view the team may work to deliver the gains for you but are not motivated to sustain or build on them. This is simply because the net effect was not clear or communicated. Many transformations (not just the lean ones) fail for this very reason.

So if there is a vision from the outset to describe what happens if the team are successful then it becomes easy to connect the cause of our improvement progamme to the effect it will have on the business and the team. One of the greatest motivators for an employee is to feel “in on things” in the business, so they can see their efforts actually have an effect on the outcomes.

And that brings us back to where we started because this is part of the improvement cycle.

  • If I can see why we need to change I will be motivated to engage
  • If I am motivated I want to contribute and deliver greater outcomes
  • If we achieve greater outcomes we can use them to bring the business to new levels
  • If we show we are growing as a result we can motivate further to engage in the next vision

The most sustainable and successful lean programmes we have seen are ones where these elements are connected. It’s not hugely difficult to do but it is not often that teams take the time to carry this out. We would say it is critical success factor for sustainable growth and a sustainable improvement system.