In order for lean principles to take root, leaders must first work to create an organizational culture that is receptive to lean thinking. To begin with, let us first understand what exactly is culture? In an organization, culture is a set of rules and standards shared by members of an organization. It is a process developed by the organization and established by the management team, as a response to the working environment. If the environment changes, obviously, the culture would have to change with it. One needs to adopt and adapt innovation in business. Lean culture is this culture of continuous improvement and a culture that embraces change.
For establishing a lean culture in the organization, the employees need to undergo a specific training focusing on lean activities. It would take time for the system to be set and sink in. One might need to actually redesign some processes.
A company needs to invest in training and instill open communication with the employees to adopt lean culture. It will need to remove any roadblocks that people may encounter while practicing such culture. The primary reason most companies fail in their lean implementation is because they fail to successfully change the previous culture. As the training programs end, with that ends the lean culture implementation. For success, one has to make sure that lean activities are part of an overall business philosophy and not a just a flavor of particular month till the training lasts.
Employee engagement is extremely necessary at all the levels to achieve business objectives. For successful business, it is important to develop a clear vision for the company as well as share its strategic objectives with the employees. Lean culture requires a strong commitment and investment from company management to make sure employees feel their input is valued & encouraged. What is equally important is execution and getting down to the level of understanding difficulties faced while executing a certain idea.
One of the challenges of implementing lean culture in healthcare is that it requires people to identify non-value added services in which they invest their time and energy. For example, we often see paramedical staff or nurses in the hospital searching and running for medical supplies while on duty. They may not see this as a waste of time, and may not even think why those supplies are not there where they need them to be. But if the supplies were always readily available, the time nurses spend hunting for them would instead be devoted to something more appropriate to their skills and expertise.
For embracing lean culture, one must first identify a perfect process. A perfect process is the one where every step is valuable; capable to produce the desired output & desired quality; adequate; flexible; and linked by continuous flow.
To create the perfect process, one needs to first identify key processes that would deliver the desired results. Then identify people capable of making the process work effectively and more than that who would not just execute the process but ‘own’ it. Leaders should appoint someone who is widely respected within the organization to “own” each process in its entirety. This need not involve someone to supervise over those who work within the process. It requires attention to relentless pursuit of throwing waste out of the process. Only sustainable process is one that works out best. The best way to create belief in a process is for participants to be able to understand the logic and purpose behind it.