Why you need Lean now more than ever!
By: Nicola Balloch
Hello readers and welcome back to the SALC blog.
We hope you are all safe and well! Here in Scotland, we will shortly be entering Phase 2 of easing lockdown restrictions. With many workplaces set to reopen next week, countless organisations are adapting their ways of working to ensure a safe and successful return. You may be surprised to know that now, even in the midst of all of these changes, is the best time to begin your Lean transformation. Don’t believe us? Keep reading to find out some of the reasons why this is the case.
Firstly, you won’t be shocked to read that Covid-19 has had a significant negative impact on the economy. Many businesses are struggling, and so finding ways to cut costs and improve efficiency isn’t just about maximising profit, it’s about survival. In business resources are always limited, but now this is truer than ever. Implementing Lean working in your organisation reduces the complexity of processes and facilitates the elimination of waste. This can reduce the burden that is placed on staff and improves the service received by customers – both of which are vital to successfully navigate these difficult waters. For example, following a Rapid Improvement Event, one of our clients reduced turn around time for jobs from 44 days to 14, and experienced an immediate saving of roughly 4.5 FTEs (£135,000). In the current climate, such a saving could be vital for many businesses and organisations.
Secondly, whilst trying to improve efficiency and make the most of the current situation, many organisations have started to ‘think lean’ without even realising it! Whether you made changes to facilitate the transition to remote working, or found new ways to serve your customers, your organisation is in a great position to start its lean journey! Sometimes we can get so caught up in the day-to-day that we can’t see the wood for the trees. We spend so much time working through our processes that we forget to take a step back and really assess their quality. However, being forced to evaluate and adapt your operations in response to Covid-19 may have been a blessing in disguise. Perhaps you’ve already identified some steps in your processes that don’t add value, or you’ve generated ideas about how the process could be improved. Either way, looking at your process with a critical eye is a great first step on your journey to becoming lean!
The final, and probably most important, reason to start your lean journey now is that now is always the best time to start your lean journey! As mentioned in our Wall of Excuses, we commonly hear things like ‘it’s not the right time’ or ‘we’re not ready to implement Lean’. Whilst we do understand that the timing of any organisational change is important, these excuses don’t really make sense. As the Chinese proverb says:
“the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now”
What this means is that the perfect time to incorporate Lean into your work was at the very beginning. However, the second best time is NOW! Delays in starting will only result in the generation of more waste (you can read more about the 8 wastes in this blog). This has obvious negative implications for your organisation, such as greater financial costs, more defects, and higher turn-around times. It goes without saying that these things can negatively impact your customers’ experience, possibly costing you future repeat business! Therefore it really is best to start your Lean journey, and thus the improvement of your organisation, sooner rather than later.
When it comes to Lean, there is no right time or situation. It is important to remember your journey begins wherever you are right now! There is no perfect timeline or road-map to follow, as the steps involved will vary for every business and organisation. The commonality lies is in striving for continuous improvement, following the guiding principle of respect for people. Part of what we love about our work is helping different organisations improve in the way that is right for them. So if you think there is room for improvement in your processes, we would love to chat with you about what we can to do help! Simply get in touch to take advantage of our current free one-hour consultation offer!