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Training Transformations

Four Fundamental Elements of a Lean Business Culture

Ryan E. Day's picture
Submitted by: Ryan E. Day

FourElementsV2No two business organizations have the same internal culture. To be sure, leadership has a major influence on this. Think Bezos, Jobs, Zuckerberg, or Elon Musk. However, most efficient and effective organizations employ four elements that are basic to a lean business culture:

1. Leader standard work
Standard work allows for a dual focus on both process and results. Although standard work is usually associated with the lower levels of an organization, benefits can be realized by assigning standard work for every person employed—right up to the CEO. Although supervisors and c-level employees will have much less of their work day dictated by standard work, it still provides for clear unambiguous expectations.

2. Visual Management
Tools like visual management boards should be based on the objectives and goals that are important to each team. The board should be easy to read, widely accessible, and include the visible status of virtually every process.  The best visual management boards are developed by the whole team.

3. Daily accountability process
Effective leaders know to keep accountability meetings brief and to use the visual management boards as the agenda

4. Leadership via the gemba
The primary reason to do gemba walking is to identify waste, initiate root cause analysis, and assure compliance with lean and standard work.


These four fundamental elements create the discipline to ensure that the processes run as designed and to improve those processes and they create a culture necessary to sustain lean improvements.