Natalie J. Sayer is the owner of I-Emerge, an Arizona-based global consultancy, and co-author of Lean For Dummies. She has traveled the world extensively, working with leaders in English and Spanish, to improve their daily lives, businesses and results. Natalie began studying and applying Lean in the automotive industry, in the US and Mexico before it was formally known as Lean. She has trained, coached, mentored and rolled up her sleeves to implement Lean in organizations ranging from Fortune 130 companies to micro-businesses.
Related Podcast and Transcription: Applying the Principles of Lean
An excerpt from a past podcast with Natalie:
Joe: What would you then warn someone about before they would attempt Lean?
Natalie: I wouldn’t say maybe warn. I would say advise them. That is to find a project that will have an impact on your customer if you improve. Two, get the leadership on board and get their support. Have your idea of the first place you’d want to start, have an idea. If you’ve read the whole book, then you might have an idea of what tools might be appropriate for that project and the scope of the project, and get your leadership onboard. If you just want to start in your own work area, start small. Maybe it’s something that will help you to be able to do your work more effectively. Workplace organization is a good place to start.
I have a home office, and it’s kind of funny because if I start abusing the systems that I have in place of not following them, it’s amazing how much time you waste looking for things. It’s not where in you expect it. We’re all human. There is no Lean robot perfection, so there will be times that you put something in place and then you, yourself, don’t have the discipline to follow-up. Then when you don’t follow it and you waste a lot of time looking for something. Let’s talk about your keys. How many times do people lay their keys down somewhere and then can’t find them? As a matter of fact, there’s a kind of a funny little spaghetti diagram in the book around, where the heck did I put my keys? There’s tracing the path looking for them.
I would say, to succinctly say that, start small. Start with a place that can affect your abilities to deliver to your customer. Get your leadership onboard. Get the ear of someone in leadership, and try a pilot.
The other thing I think that is kind of a warning for companies try to avoid the big launch event. It’s almost like that sets a company up for failure, because people expected then, “When are we going to get there?” like kids going on a destination, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Then you lose momentum because you’ve put this big, ‘Yahoo. We’re going Lean’ banner or cry out there. I kind of am a supporter of stealth.
Start talking about in your strategy, where can it fit; a leadership decision to move the direction. What does it mean on building capability, serving the customer, and understanding value streams? Then just start with projects and start with behaviors. Train as you go don’t just send a bunch of people to Lean classes to get Lean certified as we’ve already talked about, when, in fact, they don’t have a project that they’re going to immediately implement on.
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