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The Lean Transformation Framework

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We are all trying to transform. That's what lean thinking and practice are all about: challenging us to reflect deeply on how we can improve this situation, improve my organization, or improve myself (and of course, all three.) Each of us knows from experience that this work is never easy.

Whatever your role in the organization, whether you are improving one operator's work at the gemba or trying to transform an entire organization, this is tough work.

The Lean Transformation Model

Better understanding the nature of transformation is core to the mission of LEI today. Sharing this model with you, and helping others practice and develop it, enables us at LEI to narrow a gap regarding our aim.

Observing efforts in the community over many years – often working with you side-by-side – we have learned that successful transformation calls for a situational approach that is based on innovating key dimensions of any organization through addressing a series of questions.

These questions are fractal—meaning that the same questions apply whether working at the macro enterprise level or the level of individual responsibility as you dive progressively deeper into each dimension. But, while the transformation model that has emerged through years of experience is situational, the nature of the questions represent a clear point of view: if an organization fails to address each question, and with a sense of how each relates to the others, the transformation will struggle to sustain its momentum. 

Questions of the Lean Transformation Model

  1. What is the purpose of the change–what true north and value are we providing, or simply: what problem are we trying to solve?
  2. How are we improving the actual work?
  3. How are we building capability?
  4. What leadership behaviors and management systems are required to support this new way of working?
  5. What basic thinking, mindset, or assumptions comprise the existing culture, and are driving this transformation?

Fundamentally, the process of successful lean transformation rests on applying PDCA cycles of experimentation (the art and craft of science) at every level, everywhere, all the time. Being situational means that every story is going to be specific and different (each situation has a different aim or purpose). Being grounded in a common set of principles yet situational in application provides rich opportunity for the development of truly profound wisdom. Lean thinking and practice also propose a specific point of view around each question. We believe that there are certain approaches to answering each of the 5 questions that will yield greater success in your lean journey.

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LEI’s Co-Learning Partnerships focus on the Lean Transformation Model to help companies, divisions, and individuals to make things better. Learn more »

PDCA is at the core of our mission to make things better. Please send any feedback about this animation or any other aspect of LEI to Josh Rapoza, jrapoza@lean.org.

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