Creating a Lean Culture

Every company would like to think of themselves as being “lean”, as a company that utilizes resources to their full capacity and as a company that is not wasteful.  The truth of the matter is that being lean is not about cutting back unnecessary spending or getting the best “bang for your buck”; being “lean” is an entire company culture.

Lean Culture

At the heart of lean culture is the philosophy of continuous improvement.  Continuous improvement is the process of always trying to better your company, your people, your processes and products.  You are probably thinking, “every company does that”; well probably less than you would think. Lean is about exemplifying the philosophy of continuous improvement in your company’s culture.  That includes gaining your team’s buy-in and commitment to make it a reality.

People are the most important factor to a company’s successful implementation of lean culture. A company’s culture is its identity. It displays the company’s core values, exemplifies the company’s commitments to various stakeholders, and shows how people get things done. Lean principles suggest that your employees need to be willing to go above and beyond to be as efficient as possible. This also has to be the culture of your company to recruit and hire those individuals and most importantly, have the systems in place to make it as easy as possible for employees to be efficient. This entails standardization, visual management tools, accountability systems, removing obstacles and wastes, including things that waste people’s time, and fulfilling your commitments.

Lean culture is often used in the manufacturing industry to work on creating the most efficient manufacturing lines, automation, and consistency in products.  The same ideals can be applied to a business that doesn’t produce tangible products. Lean culture can be applied by promoting these ideals and using tools often used in lean culture in an office environment to track projects, assure accountability, promote efficiency and hire people to fit your company culture.  What kind of culture does your company have and what principles from lean culture might it benefit from?