Guest Contributor – Mike Stickler, Founder and President of Empowered Performance
The old motto “Measure Twice, Cut Once” applies to the preparation for a lean transformation. Many times, transformations start with very little or no preparation. This results in a very stressful and rushed diagnosis.
It is easy to understand how a poorly planned outline then leads to poor design and weak implementation.
It is essential that certain activities take place before the you begin working on those value streams in need of improvement. This increases the probability of the team getting off to the best start possible and delivering a successful transformation.
There are 8 key aspects of the preparation phase that must be completed as a minimum:
- Create the team
- Understand real business need
- Establish strong relationships
- Train the team
- Spend time in the business
- Access the data
- Set clear direction
- Create a work plan
Let’s take a closer look at each one.
1. Create the Team
The team needs to be created, but most importantly needs to understand how to work together. Further more, the team should be made up of educated or experienced transformational professionals, as well as, experienced business professionals.
This also requires the team to be aligned on how they plan to work together, interact with top management, and agree on the value stream that is undergoing the transformation.
2. Understand Real Business Need
The team must understand what the real business need is – the critical to success criteria.
A “Burning Platform Statement” developed by the leadership of the business must clearly set the goals and objectives for the transformation. The Burning Platform Statement is used to guide the transformation team through the Diagnostic, Design, Planning, Implementation, and Sustainability Phases.
3. Establish Strong Relationships
The team must spend time building relationships with key decision makers. Transformations are hard; change can be difficult and extremely stressful.
Without strong personal relationships with the leadership of the business, the transformation can result in ugly confrontations, which create bitter feelings that could derail the effort.
4. Train the Team
The team must be trained in the lean transformation process. Trying to do a transformation with a team that does not understand the process and has not been trained in the details necessary for success will lead to failure.
The approach we have used very successfully is to take the team off site and put them through a multiple day “Boot Camp” education and training experience.
5. Spend Time in the Business
The team must have time in the business to develop an understanding of the existing businesses process, organization infrastructure, and organizational culture.
Without a robust understanding of the current state of the business and how it supports (or not) the current as well as future customer requirements, the team could easily work on improving things that don’t matter.
6. Access the Data
Any specific data needed over and above what the team has been able to gather during the Assessment phase should be formally requested from the right people in leadership.
Every effort should be made to fulfill the identified additional data as soon as possible.
A successful transformation needs to deal with the facts and data is key to finding and eliminating waste.
7. Set Clear Direction
Create a ghost PowerPoint deck with examples of the analysis and data that needs to be created and gathered during the Diagnostic phase.
This ghost deck provides guidance and direction for the transformation team as they start to validate the current state of the business. It provides a framework to guide the data collection and analysis, as well as, examples of how to present the findings.
8. Create a Work Plan
This draft work plan needs to cover the whole project and have greater detail for the first 5 to 6 weeks.
Without a detailed plan with day by day objectives, project creep easily can happen.
The above 8 key aspects of preparation will increase your probability delivering a successful transformation.
The better the preparation, the easier your transformation will be.
Compromise on any of the above requirements and you will need to ratchet back your odds of success.
About Mike Stickler
Mike is “The Professional Provoker” and is the Founder and President of Empowered Performance, LLC a worldwide management education and consulting firm.
Mike has extensive international experience working with companies of varied sizes and industries helping them implement strategies to attain World-Class levels of performance. He has developed expertise in “Enterprise Excellence”, Enterprise Resource Planning and Supply Chain Management (ERP/SCM), Lean (Toyota Production System), Team Building and Problem Solving, Six Sigma and Reengineering Business Processes. He is considered an expert in helping companies develop and implement Strategic Business Units and fast response customer service production units.