The philosophy of lean management cannot be implemented successfully in an organization without the involvement of the people of the organization. Many times while implementing the lean philosophy, companies tend to focus too much on the process and technical aspect and ignore the people aspect. Successful lean management requires focus on two critical aspects: continuous improvement and people or employees.
Employees should be trained in what lean philosophy is about. It is employees that are going to implement lean practices at the level of workshops and production centers. If they lack the lean mindset then implementation would not be effective. The first step should be to train a critical mass of employees in the lean mindset. These employees can include line managers, supervisors and other employees. There are many training consultancies in India that provide training in lean philosophy and Six Sigma to employees.
Lean philosophy requires empowerment of employees. Employees should be given the opportunity to solve the problems that they face at workplace. Employees should have the opportunity to give feedback on ways the existing processes can be improved. The goal of continuous improvement in processes cannot be achieved if the feedback of employees is not taken. It is employees who work on the processes and their insights on how to improve the processes is valuable.
Some of the goals of lean philosophy are to produce only output that is demanded by customers; to improve efficiency and effectiveness by continuously improving the processes; to not ignore any problem that comes up in the production facility; and to ensure that any work problem that an individual employee faces is resolved in a collaborative manner.
The above goals of lean philosophy cannot be achieved without the support of employees. And in order to draw their support for lean philosophy the management needs to do two things. The first is to train employees in lean philosophy so that they become competent in it and understand its significance. The second is to show a respectful attitude towards employees.
The people aspect is as important as the technical and process aspect in implementation of lean philosophy. Companies that have achieved efficiency in operations and effectiveness in quality because of lean management have been the ones who have not ignored the people aspect. Toyota, one of the best examples of operational efficiency and product quality, is a glaring example of this.