Continuous improvement is one of the pillars of a Lean environment. It sounds pretty lofty, doesn’t it? “I work for a company that’s always evolving,” is a great blurb for LinkedIn, but what does that even look like? How is a company sure that they’re practicing continuous improvement in Lean ways? This article will discuss two techniques that you can use to build the right mindset across your organization for continuous improvement in Lean.
In September 2015, we launched the first-ever Lean Business Survey to gain insight into how people were applying Lean across all disciplines of knowledge work. In two short months, we gathered responses from more than 3,000 executives, consultants, and team members in a variety of industries, hailing from 75 countries across the globe.
Thanks to the strong response to our survey, we’re pleased to announce the release of our inaugural Lean Business Report. This report is the first of its kind, and this exclusive research has never been released until now.
92% of teams surveyed experienced moderate to significant improvements after implementing Lean. Download the report to learn what practices and principles are guiding them to success.
The dreaded question, “Do you have five minutes?” seems to be relatively harmless on the surface; who doesn’t have five minutes to spare? Everyone wants to be helpful — which is why you’re always willing to put down what you’re doing to hear your coworker’s burning questions. Then, you struggle to wrap your head around the context of their issue, and engage in the inevitable knowledge transfer required to catch up to their thought process.
Somehow, five minutes has turned into 20 minutes. You’ve deposited your answer and they leave content with the outcome. You finally get back to your computer, ready to pick up where you left off — but you get stuck: “Where was I again?”
At LeanKit, Lean isn’t just the product we sell. It’s in our name because we passionately believed in it when we founded the company, and we still do today.
By embracing Lean across our company, we’ve adopted a customer-centric approach — not only in our product development, but also in every other department, from finance and accounting to sales and marketing.
What Lean Teams Can Learn from Crew
I was working on a conference presentation the other day and found a picture of a crew team. It reminded me of a similar picture our marketing team has used on the LeanKit website, and how well that metaphor fits both Lean and me personally. I was in crew in high school. I still have my team jacket in my closet 20 years later. That may be corny nostalgia, but it speaks to the impact of the experience.
I rowed in quads. Quads are the boats where each rower faces backwards, with an oar in each hand, and there’s a coxswain in the back of the boat facing forward to guide the crew. It’s a wonderful metaphor for successful Lean teamwork.
People are talking about the misaligned middle. How can it be that executives understand the value of emerging practices in IT Operations, such as Lean and DevOps, and individual contributors in the trenches get it, but the middle managers just don’t seem to? Are they unaware? Stubborn? Is it learned helplessness?
Guardrails are designed to keep people from unintentionally straying into dangerous territory. They are usually placed in the trickiest areas, where it is easy to take a wrong turn. Just as guardrails along the roadway keep drivers safer, decision–making guardrails can protect businesses from taking unnecessary risks.
Our concept of guardrails for knowledge work was born at a leadership offsite for LeanKit’s executives. We were discussing how we could provide our employees with the independence they needed to make business decisions, while ensuring that their efforts were aligned with our business needs.