Management routines to build & support a Lean Transformation

Management Routines – Learning anything well and developing a skill usually takes practice and time to get it right. One of my biggest challenges in lean has been how to support leadership in their transition away from a traditional command & control style to a more people centric Lean Leadership role.  

The Lean Transformation Framework (LTF)

The LTF helps us think about the five dimensions that needed to be addressed for a successful transformation , and the “management system” sits right in the heart of the framework for a very good reason!

A lean management system is like the “Glue” that holds everything together. It helps builds a culture where everyone can become self-reliant and contribute every day to maintaining & improving value driven purpose.

A Lean Management systems not only require robust daily routines to maintain today’s work standards, but also requires them to develop routines that drive them to actively practice improvement .

This is done through “Learning by doing” using scientific Lean methods & techniques (for which there are many depending on problem to be solved)

Leaders can learn scientific methods such as Practical Problem Solving, Rapid Kaizen etc through frequent and short PDCA cycles. Which should be focused on improving the work together with their own team. These quick PDCA learning cycles need to be deliberately practiced as part of their daily & weekly routines. Learning with others will develop their own skill to teach and coach and improve the work at the same time!

Most leaders have good intentions to modify their management routines but struggle to put it into practice. They get caught up in a spiral of day to day performance management , either doing process work, reporting or firefighting all problems with the work .

 It’s no wonder Leaders end up thinking they have no time to perform routines that build their own & others lean capabilities. Even though they have all the time to do endless fire fighting and chasing!

When capturing & breaking down existing routines, you will discover they have not really been designed with a clear purpose in mind. ( using 5W & 2H). Their routines are also not fully linked/aligned with other management levels in the organization. From my experience management routines are usually developed gradually over time. Routines derived from many reactive and inherited activities creates a multi-level mis-alignment of management focus. This can causes a massive amount of “leaderships wastes” and wrong behaviour’s within an organization  

So what questions do we need to ask when improving our activities ?

Here are a few basic questions to consider:-

  1. What are the wastes & gaps our current management system today ?  (against Purpose, Process & People)
  2. How can we redesign our management routines to build the right capability and behaviours that support a Lean transformation?  (there are some sub questions below this)
  3. How should we hold ourselves accountable to ensure effectiveness and sustainment of new routines & behaviour’s ?    

How can we improve the purpose and alignment of our Management Routines?  

Most organizations do not have robust diagnostic for leadership to deeply reflect, modify and connect their own management routines & behaviours. Developing a structured method is crucial to enabling leaders to self-reflect on their own management routines & behaviours

managment Routines diagram

Build deeper understanding with Leadership of Purpose, Process & People , so their role in Lean Management System is Clear

Looking in the mirror always is all ways hard and requires strong facilitation, coaching & feedback to get people to think differently.

Before attempting any diagnostic you will need to ensure the leaders have a deeper understanding of what a Lean Management System actually is. This will help them understand their role in supporting a lean transformation.

Using a framework based on principle of PDCA is a great way to simply capture & start thinking about designing and modifying your current management routines to better support a lean transformation .

developing managment routines

Use Structure PDCA Framework to help capture and modify management routines

Once you have captured the current state routines for each leadership level, you will then need to align & consolidate them .

This then address the wastes & gaps against Lean Management System – Purpose, Process & People

Part of the research work we are doing at LEA is to design an method for implementing management routine changes. This will be as “step by step” guide to follow when taking leaders through changing their routines.

pdca of Management Routines

Follow 8 step Kaizen method for modifying , implementing & sustaining new management routines

Use Lean Methods & techniques (such as A3 Reports) to support management routines

We need to help leaders free up time from process work and enable others to solve problems for them.

Leaving them more time for teaching & coaching others to improve

Using an experimental kaizen method I have now completed a number of experiments with successes & some failures to learn from and share.

Try some experiments on your own management routines & share the learnings as part of LEA’s research Hoshin. This is a great chance learn better methods for improving management routines to support a Lean transformation.

Listen to our Webinar on Managment System for Perfromance :-

Performance Management System | On-Demand Webinar | Lean Academy (