Creating a lean culture often involves looking into your organization’s internal functions through your customers’ eyes. A lean culture will not only keep your customers happy and coming back for business, but it will also create sustainability, which is a recipe for success. Here are some reasons why creating a lean culture is essential for sustainability:

  • The Customer Is Everyone’s Business – It should not surprise you that creating a lean culture is all about making the customer everyone’s business. In fact, the customer is the very reason why your business even exists. You would not have any lean processes to manage without customers. Immerse your workers into this process of understanding that their salary is paid by the customers, which means that they need to contribute to successful customer outcomes. It is far easier to eliminate useless processes than to tweak them.


  • Standardized Work for Managers – Although it is difficult to standardize work in all respects, there are solutions which managers and leaders can adopt in order to make sure that everyone delivers at the same level. One of the most effective ways to create a lean culture is working through task lists, a form of standardizing work, which makes it a lot easier to evaluate the effectiveness of the managers.


  • Daily Accountability – The purpose of daily accountability is not to put more pressure on people but to focus their efforts on active improvement. Daily accountability meetings exist to discuss what happened the day before and identify what can be done today to improve things. Daily accountability meetings are not for long discussions or informative in nature. Their goal is to improve the work process and assign responsibility for the necessary tasks.


  • Demand Discipline – Creating a lean culture requires discipline. You need to have a lean management system where the customer is the driver, the standardized work is the engine, and the daily accountability is the steering wheel. Within this context, discipline becomes the fuel that allows you to observe each part of the system individually while making sure they all work together.

Creating a lean culture needs the support of top management just like any other process improvement endeavor. Helping others adhere to these ways of thinking will ensure the success of a lean management system. As the new way and the traditional way vary widely, a conversion process will be required, which involves reeducating everyone in the organization. If you are looking for sustainability, you need to be prepared to ask people to adopt practices that may be the very opposite of what they are doing.

Mike Earle


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