A Publication of WTVP

Last month I shared a perspective about the important role a company’s leadership plays in the systematic elimination of waste and creation of customer value. This month, we take the next important step in the process: empowering the team to drive the projects forward.

The goals of this phase are to develop a core group of lean “champions” who’ll support implementation and facilitate understanding of lean manufacturing principles by all employees. These foundation activities need to be timed carefully to develop and maintain momentum for lean deployment.

Lean Champion Development
Lean champions are selected for each facility and for the key operational processes/value streams for each facility. The number of champions typically depends on the size of the company, number of distinct value streams, and other factors. Lean champions typically are process/value-stream managers, who’ll become internal facilitators and actively lead lean implementations. A company that establishes a full-time lean champion often generates the best results.

These champions often are trained in the following areas:

• Foundation concepts training: lean overview with simulation.
• Lean certification training: value stream mapping (VSM), 5S+1, setup reduction (quick changeover/SMED), cellular/flow, total productive maintenance, building a lean culture, and team development. Techniques for facilitation of VSM and Kaizen events are integrated into this training.
• On-site application training is provided in Phase 3.
Lean champions should maintain communication with each other and work as a team to learn from their experiences and improve the company’s lean implementation strategy. To maximize synergy across facilities, the selected lean champions should be brought together to share the training experience and build a common commitment to implementation and collaboration across facilities.

Employee “Lean Overview” Training
• Training employees in the basics of lean manufacturing is an important part of developing a sustainable lean culture. Typically, eight hours of training should be provided to employees, including simulations that illustrate lean principles.
• Optimally, training courses should include a cross-section of employees from different levels of responsibility/authority and operating units within a facility.
• It’s important to time general employee training so it’s held just prior to the involvement of participating employees in VSM development and Kaizen events.
• Foundation training may be delivered concurrently with training for lean champions.
• Lean concepts and their use should be reinforced through employee newsletters and other communication tools.

Experts estimate 80 percent of successful lean enterprises attribute their success to the designation of well-trained, empowered internal champions. They help facilitate new work practices and improve the way change is introduced, embraced, and tackled. Ultimately, they help the company contain costs and be more profitable. IBI