Discover a leadership approach that will help you tap into and focus the talents of every individual in your organization toward achieving a strategic vision.
Lead with purpose
Leaders who are lean thinkers and practitioners understand that it’s impossible for one person—or even a small group of executives—to have all the answers. Instead, they view their role as:
- setting the organization’s vision, mission, and strategic objectives;
- building alignment of purpose across the organization to achieve them; and, critically,
- creating an environment where everyone understands how they contribute to organizational goals and continuously develops their capability to do so.
Organizational leaders execute this expansive role by developing work and management systems that guide how work is done, challenges are met, and new markets are developed. These systems are designed to ensure the organization’s purpose is achieved while everyone is respectfully challenged to do their part. Lean thinking and practice underpin these systems, providing proven, organization-wide principles, practices, and tools that ensure sustainable, stable, yet agile business processes.
With these aligned systems and engaged individuals, critical information quickly travels throughout the organization. New timesaving or quality improvement processes are shared across lines and facilities; new customer and market needs are made visible across the value streams that will work to meet them; and team successes are celebrated throughout the organization.
Executives who lead using lean thinking & practice pattern their behavior after Fujio Cho, former chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation, who advised, “Go see, ask why, show respect.” They seek to fully understand the work so they can support the person doing the work, thereby helping enhance the worker’s capabilities. They ask “why,” not only to understand the work but also to challenge the workers and show respect for the workers’ ownership of the work and their ability to do it. They strive whenever possible to lead by influence and example as if they have no authority.
Using lean thinking and practice, executive leaders create armies of problem-solvers who each work always to drive waste from their workflows and can correct abnormal conditions immediately or use causal analysis to address more complex issues.
Ultimately, these executives build lean enterprises in which each function or department of the organization operates and connects with all the others based on lean thinking & practice. By leading by example and guiding everyone in the organization to become lean thinkers and practitioners, these executives build organizations that enjoy an enduring and sustainable competitive advantage.