A few weeks ago, I shared about the relationship between job roles and successful lean transformations. Today, I’m sharing another barrier to a successful lean transformation: Development of a lean culture can be elusive.

The following is an excerpt from my book, “Lean HR: Redesigning HR Processes for a Culture of Continuous Improvement” – Second Edition, out this spring, intended to help organizations partner with HR to reach the full potential of a lean transformation.

“As I’ve talked with dozens of organizations working on lean initiatives, many discussions have centered around overall dissatisfaction with long-term results. The most common observation made during these conversations is that a cultural change is required to achieve the full, sustainable benefits. The more that lean is embedded in an organization’s culture, the more successful the transformation.

“People working in such organizations do not describe their results as stemming from lean, because it is so completely integrated into their work—how they think and what they do. They point to improved customer satisfaction, better quality, improved efficiencies, and increased employee engagement. Therefore, a successful transformation is where lean principles and practices permeate a company and shape its culture, not just its practices.

“To foster a lean culture, companies must go beyond the obvious application of lean tools. They must actively engage in a range of activities that not only support this new way of working, but also help to change the culture. The tools cannot just be utilized during a training exercise or on a project; they must become part of daily activities and ways of thinking that have no clear beginning or end. Companies are realizing that, to achieve a successful lean transformation, effective problem-solving and other practices need to be utilized all day every day in every office and department.”

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