The Value of a Lean Culture

Journal for Quality and Participation vol. 39 issue 4 - January 2017

Abstract: The value of lean practices is widely known, but less known is the fact that many lean projects do not serve an organization in the long term by creating a culture of reducing waste and empowering employees. Lean projects are started because an organization recognizes a need to reduce waste and become more efficient, but in order to sustain any progress made through lean, the culture of an organization must shift to encourage lean principles at every level. While shifting the culture of an entire organization can be a daunting prospect, the benefits of adopting a lean culture can also solve the problem of a disengaged and disinterested workforce. Engaged and empowered workers are invested in the principles of their organizations and actively look for ways to contribute and expend extra effort to help the company thrive. Many organizations try to recognize employees for outstanding effort with incentive programs, but often this recognition achieves the opposite of what is intended by not giving employees the opportunity to empower themselves. Leaders are responsible for shifting the culture to let employees stop following and start leading, and a shift to lean culture is a great vehicle to make that happen.

Keywords: Culture; Leadership; Process improvement; Empowerment; Employees; Lean culture

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