Start Small, Get LEAN
One of the reasons I like LEAN for continuous process improvement is that it can be an effort that starts small, has early success, builds momentum and begins a much larger and longer cultural shift that impacts the entire organization. It can begin in one area, one department and even with one champion. To be successful in the long-term and for the entire organization, there must be the commitment of leadership, training across departments and integration of process improvement in to all parts of the company. But, we can start small.
So, where do we begin?
First, find a process that needs improvement. It should be one that is visible to others and measurable. It is beneficial if it involves more than one person. It does not need to one of the core or most complicated aspects of the work we do.
Let’s say we are interested in looking at our process for pre-qualifying a lead. This is certainly an important process and one that may involve several people. These are the steps we want to follow:
- Choose the process you are seeking to improve, in this case – Pre-Qualifying a Lead
- Define the beginning and the end of that particular process. For example, it begins when the phone rings or it begins when a lead is generated from the website
- Map the existing process (step-by-step) from end to end. For example, step 1: Person A answers the phone, step 2 Person A enters info into CRM, ongoing through the last step (lead is either disqualified or forward to salesperson)
- Next, determine the approximate time for each step and then total the number of steps and length of time for the “current state”
- Work with those involved in the process to discuss where in the process there are wastes: waiting, errors made that must be corrected, or others.
- Brainstorm a list of what could be changed, reordered or eliminated from the process to lessen waste, lessen time between steps, lessen the number of steps and the overall time it will take to complete the process.
- Implement those ideas for improvement that will have the biggest impact for the least cost, effort or risk
- Measure the new process to be sure it is an improvement
- Map the new process, it is now the new “current state” or the way we do things
- Choose the next process to improve
This is a basic example of a simple start to LEAN. There is much more to it, it is a long-term cultural shift and it takes a commitment of time and resource to do it successfully. But, we can start small, get some success and go from there.