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Making changes can be a rather large challenge. This is especially true when you are committed to making improvements to the value stream as a whole rather than local ones for an individual process. It is common for disputes to rise, especially when a project team recognizes that there can be substantial time savings if a task is moved to a different team. For example, a task may take people at process ‘C’ 15 minutes to complete, but if it was done as a part of process ‘A’ it might only take five minutes. Clearly, the company benefits from making this change. If the manager of process ‘A’, however, is already facing significant challenges, she may resist adding this work.

Another common problem is prioritization. When a kaizen team is assembled, they have extremely limited time in which to accomplish their goals. Because of this, there is frequently a need to circumvent standard support processes. They may need IT support immediately, or they may need facilities to build some benches on overtime. These needs compete with those of other groups that are also waiting on support

That’s were a champion comes in. A Lean champion tends to be project oriented. They are senior executives with clout in the company. They provide backing to the project team and help remove obstacles, provide resources, move things along more quickly, and resolve disputes. Lean champions must be fully committed to creating a continuous improvement culture to be effective.

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