On one hand, some companies believe they have adopted Lean and are searching for the “next big thing.” Other sectors, such as healthcare, are, on the other hand, discovering the joys of lean experimentation and reaping the benefits of improved performance for the first time. The first dimension should be approached with caution. Also, companies that have been attempting to increase their efficiency for several years using lean principles and strategies are just halfway there.
Lean has several facets and layers, many of which companies have yet to investigate or implement properly. Instead of searching for the next new management method, organisations in these situations can evaluate their implementation status and see where aspects of the current lean system can be strengthened. There is also a plethora of prospects that have yet to materialise. In today’s business environment, the 5 key trends that have been observed are:
- Every industry is affected by lean: Lean methodologies are becoming more widely used in virtually every industry. Speakers and participants from all sectors of the private and public sector, including healthcare, finance, retail, IT, and government, as well as conventional manufacturing and supply chain, can be found at lean-related conferences. While there is still a perception that lean is only for manufacturing, this perception is dissipating.
- ‘Transformation’ movements are becoming more prevalent: Many companies are recognising the need for substantial and broad-based change as a result of rapidly changing technology, transforming market models, and intense global competition. This level of organisational change is increasingly being referred to as “transformation,” with Transformational Leaders being named as key executive positions. The definition of transformation varies by business, but it should ideally be a fusion of lean, strategy, programme management, and change management as part of a larger Organizational Development initiative.
- Lean and Six Sigma Integration: Initially, Lean and Six Sigma were often administered and implemented by different divisions within companies. Although the two operations have recently been merged into a single “functional” organisation, often referred to as the Lean Six Sigma department, they are still frequently conducted by different sub-teams with experts in the respective methodologies. True integration is the pattern, in which the synergies between the two methods are completely exploited and people who are highly skilled in both methodologies are employed, while ‘master’-level knowledge may still reside in separate individuals.
- End-to-end process management and improvement using “Value Stream Thinking”: The Value Stream is becoming more well-known, and Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is becoming more common. However, in many situations, the proper implementation of VSMs is elusive. In other instances, VSMs are just a fancy way of saying “phase mapping.” These cannot be called VSMs because there is no way to calculate the process’s end-to-end success.The application of Value Stream Management, which is a way to control and develop the end-to-end value stream on an ongoing basis, represents a significant future opportunity. To date, there are only a few examples of well-executed Value Stream Management, but the trend is growing as businesses recognise that deep silos and a lack of cross-functional flow are negatively impacting customer engagement, creativity, collaboration, and expense.
- Lean is becoming more widely recognised as a management framework: While Lean began as a collection of tools for improving processes, it has evolved into a comprehensive management framework. Lean Leadership is a management system strategy that is needed to fuel lean improvements and maintain gains, as well as a related set of leadership competencies that go beyond the ‘standard’ set of leadership skills.
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