Building a Culture of Continuous Improvement: Lean Training in Perth

We have had over 15 years’ experience in working with organisations on Lean Training in Perth and around Australia to transform people, process and culture through implementing continuous improvement solutions.

Over this period we have seen a transition in Australia from organisations not being aware of “Lean” to there being full awareness on the benefits of creating a culture of continuous improvement and a drive to wanting to look at developing their people in a skillset that will give them a more competitive edge in their industry. Where Lean was once seen as a manufacturing business philosophy it is now widespread in use across Healthcare, Ports, Shipbuilding, Laboratories, Mining and Professional Services.  Just look on Seek and you will see a variety of roles for Business Improvement Professionals in a myriad of industries and it is here to stay.

Why does waste creep into processes?

As an organisation grows and develops, waste organically creeps into processes as it is part of the normal cycle and reaction when things don’t go to plan. Businesses commonly implement counter measures to problems vs attacking directly their root cause. An example is a lawyers firm that let slip a clients personal details to an ex-partner and instead of addressing the root cause, which was inadequate training, they added an extra manual check process, adding time and money to their process. On the surface an extra check might not seem to cost much time, effort and money but when you multiply that over the number of times this check happens in a day, week, month and year it starts to add up.  

Most people have heard about the iceberg of ignorance, where frontline workers see the majority of the problems that exist within their organisation. If there is a true culture of continuous improvement and the right tools used, ideas for improvement from frontline workers can be harnessed to drive improvements that reduce frustrations for employees, drive financial improvement to the bottom line and deliver better products and services to customers.  

Lean Training in Perth
Iceberg of Ignorance – what leaders see might only be the tip whereas frontline workers see the whole iceberg

What does a successful Lean implementation look like?

Successful Lean or continuous improvement implementations have five things in common:

  1. Having an aligned leadership team with clear strategic objectives and a want to drive a culture of continuous improvement vs it being a bolt on initiative
  2. A commitment to having everyone feeling valued and their opinions heard through the culture of top down – bottom up continuous improvement
  3. Understanding that smaller, sometimes non-financial, wins are required to build the muscle before attacking larger strategic projects and gain buy-in
  4. Creating standardised work with input from the people involved in the process to create ownership
  5. Having an aligned workforce where everyone has the same tools and approach to problem solving & implementing improvements

A sustainable Lean implementation can take time, patience and there can be mis-steps along the way. Organisations that think they can achieve it in a short burst of training, don’t truly understand what it takes to drive change as what you are setting out to accomplish is to manage complex change within your organisation and give your people the tools to be ok with change and how to manage change on an ongoing basis. Change is now is a constant, and organisations are beginning to understand the value in teaching their people how to manage it.

Is Lean a magic silver bullet to fix an organisation?

Uncontrolled continuous improvement is chaotic. Where organisations don’t harness the power of continuous improvement and align it towards strategic goals it becomes just random improvements.

If you are looking to embark on a journey of continuous improvement or want to roll out Lean training, the internal conditions need to be right. It isn’t a silver bullet that will fix all problems.

We have rolled out Lean Training in Perth to hundreds of businesses and the key is the leadership team. If dysfunction exists in the leadership team or there is a lack in leadership capability it will be a hit and miss experience.  Continuous improvement will thrive in the areas of good leadership, with resistance or false starts in those areas without. This is also true to large multi-site roll outs, with sites having true leadership tending to succeed and thrive whilst those without don’t tend to change and resist the transparency and accountability that Lean brings.

Our advice is always to fix the dysfunction, get the right leaders in the right seats prior to embarking on your journey of change even if it takes time, as the cost of getting it wrong can lead to a blow out in cost and damage to the culture of the organisation. Getting it right can mean transformation of the way you run your organisation.

If you want to explore Lean and how it can impact your organisation reach out to the team at Essemy or our sister company CI Teams. We love to talk anything Lean and how we can support your continuous improvement journey.