Frontline professionals have a unique role in Lean operations. This group tends to consist of college-educated individuals with a specific set of skills. They are typically engineers, accountants, marketers, and the like.
They offer several characteristics that make them especially helpful when making improvements:
- They tend to be well-versed in office applications. Documenting, calculating, and analyzing are core tasks in an improvement project. Not many frontline employees use these skills on a daily basis.
- They tend to be familiar with working on project teams. Being on temporary project teams is nothing new to this group. That makes it easier for them to focus on the process being improved rather than the process of joining a team.
- They aren’t part of the leadership team. For some companies, this doesn’t matter. In others, there might be trust issues when working with your boss or your boss’s boss on a kaizen team. Frontline professionals fall into that gray area where they can have some authority, but typically not directly over other team members.
- They have a special skill. While they don’t always know a specific process, they do know their own job well. And those skills can translate in unexpected ways. A marketer, for example, may be able to come up with great visual controls or documentation.
- They have connections. Most frontline professionals have a network of people they partner with in the course of their job. It opens up a great many options to a project team.
In addition to being assets to project teams, frontline professionals have a need for continuous improvement in their own processes. They frequently hold jobs that only a few other people perform, or they might even be the only one with process knowledge. Having strong Lean skills is essential because there is nobody else that is going to drive change. Frontline pros often have to be both the champion and executer of change.
How We Help
In addition to the vast free online resources we offer, our Lean Training System provides a way for frontline professionals to really step up their continuous improvement performance. Of particular benefit is the problem solving module group. It offers information that will not only help with improvement projects, but also with everyday job performance.