Developing a lean culture from the top down: a workshop approach

team completing a lean workshop


“Lean” is one of the more prevalent buzzwords in the business process improvement industry. Lean is the continual pursuit of efficiency through the removal of waste in a process or system. The word gained its popularity in the manufacturing sector, but is now gaining traction in other industries.

Lean is all about eliminating everything that does not add value (removing waste), in turn creating the most efficient way to move from point A to point B in any given process. Why? Lean strategies help companies make more money by making products more efficiently, or save money by cutting costs and downtime.

How do companies create a lean culture?

It doesn’t matter what name you give your lean strategy: kaizen, kanban, poke-yoke or error-proofing, 5S, eight forms of waste, value stream mapping, or cellular manufacturing. The terms are irrelevant – all of these terms are about eliminating waste and streamlining processes.

However, most companies will find that while senior level executives are often eager to implement a lean culture, those employees who work on the floor in the manufacturing plants can be quite reluctant to make changes to their daily processes and procedures. After all, they’re usually the ones who have to make the most significant changes.

So, this begs the question: If you want to create a lean culture from the top-down, how do you create buy-in and support through all levels of the organization?

The ultimate lean implementation solution: the workshop approach

Workshops can be extremely effective at creating lean buy-in because they are interactive. In most learning scenarios, a company will have a wide-variety of visual, auditory, and experiential learners. Workshops manage to touch all three audiences while keeping everyone engaged.

There are many different types of lean workshops out on the market, each one with its own price tag. Be wary of workshops that last more than half a day as you may lose interest and energy level. Alternatively, workshops that are less than two hours may not bring about the memorable moments you’re hoping to achieve.

Overall, we found the most success with a half-day workshop that creates a team-based, competitive atmosphere.

Generating management buy-in for a new lean culture

Hosting a series of these workshops with your management team can quickly demonstrate what a lean culture could accomplish for your company. Top-down support is the first step in a profitable and exciting journey to performance excellence.

What questions do you have about using the workshop approach to create a lean culture from the top-down? Leave us a comment below, or contact our team of cross-functional performance improvement specialists today to learn more.