The purpose of lean management is to allow for the sustainability of a lean production system. Without a lean management system, lean implementation often falters, sometimes fails, and virtually never delivers up to its long-run promises. The final, and most important, element in the lean management system is leadership discipline.
As a leader in your lean environment, you are the force that can motivate and sustain lean management. That applies no matter what your position — whether you are responsible for a team or department, a value stream or plant, a business unit or the organization as a whole. Defining expectations and holding people accountable to them is the key to a successful lean implementation. According to Derrick Wright, leadership discipline forces lean managers to rely on their leader standard work, maintain their visual controls, and conduct regular Gemba walks. By conducting the Gemba walks, you demonstrate the importance of going to the place, looking at the process, and talking with the people as a key in assessing process performance. For departmental managers, supervisors and team leaders, this approach is a set of leadership practices, tools, and behaviors that creates a closed loop system for focusing on process and driving process improvement.
David Mann states that Lean is more than just a kit of tools to improve flow and quality. It is a business philosophy, and to be effective over the long run, discipline is essential. Every leader must spend some of his or her time focusing on the adherence to the Lean process, and noting the improvement opportunities such focus reveals. Discipline is the essential element in sustained Lean performance.
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