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C-Level Executives

C-Level executives are the top individuals in an organization’s hierarchical structure. They most common are the CEO (Chief Executive Officer), CFO (Chief Financial Officer), and COO (Chief Operating Officer). There are also frequently c-level executives in charge of marketing or information technology.

Some organizations will even go further and assign a chief to things such as diversity or risk.

C-level executives can make or break a Lean effort. They have tremendous power and a great deal of flexibility in obtaining and assigning resources, both human and financial.

While most groups fall into a somewhat normal distribution regarding how committed they are to Lean, these top executives tend to lie on extreme ends of the spectrum.

To rise to their position, executives need to be consistently successful throughout their careers. Some achieve that success by working well with their subordinates and experimenting with new ideas. This group tends to be receptive to the principles that govern continuous improvement. Because they have such great clout, their backing has a tremendous impact on Lean efforts.

On the other hand, some top-level executives have very strong personalities and got where they are primarily through force of will. They are tenacious and push hard to get things done. Unfortunately, this mentality falls short in a continuous improvement environment where empowering individuals is a key ingredient to success. This type of executive can be a major barrier to progress. Because they are so senior, their resistance can slow progress to a standstill.


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