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How Do I "Sell" Lean to My Team?

How do I “sell” Lean to my team?

Like it or not, the early stage of any Lean transformation contains a sales pitch to the team. The members of the organization are being asked to take on something new. For them to fully commit, to fully buy in, they need to see the value in the path they are being asked to take.

The truth is that changing to a Lean organization is a long journey, and different people will personally commit at different points. The more people that commit early, though, and the more fully they commit, the easier the transition will be.

There are a few basic tips to help leadership teams through this challenging period of time.

  • Be honest. Your teams are very smart. Don’t try to sell Lean as if you’re doing something solely for the good of the employees. People understand that the company wants to make a profit. Don’t discount that there is a large financial motivation behind the drive to become Lean. Also, don’t make it sound easy. There will be a lot of hard work along the way. If people feel like they were lied to early in the transition, you are at risk of losing their support later.
  • Be consistent. Make sure that all members of the leadership team have a similar message. People talk. If they see a variety of messages about why they company is changing, their spider-sense will start to tingle.
  • Highlight value for the team members. As mentioned earlier, don’t neglect discussing the value that Lean brings to the company. Once you do that, it is okay to make sure that team members know what they will be personally getting when the company embraces Lean principles. Talk about getting more help when demand spikes, more focus on frustrating problems, and a more consistent and reasonable set of expectations.
  • Communicate often. Don’t just talk to your team once and be done with it. Building their commitment to a continuous improvement culture takes time and effort. The message must be continuous and communication must be in two directions. Make sure you are listening to the issues people are having, and even more importantly, make sure you are addressing them.
  • Be flexible. Be open to reasonable requests. Lean is more about a mentality that it is about the precise application of tools. If you can create buy-in by being flexible, you should jump at the chance. That’s not to say you should violate Lean principles. It just means that there’s more than one way to skin a cat. The way your team uses does not always have to be your way.
  • Get early successes. Give your team something tangible to see early on, and an abstract idea becomes something more real. Start your Lean journey in an area with a high probability of success. Good examples are more meaningful when they are in-house.

 

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