Once a solid foundation is laid, the organization can really start to accelerate its progress. Not only will teams get better at the things they are already doing, the structure they built will make it easier to continue to add increasingly sophisticated tools.
Another characteristic of this phase is that it emphasizes greater involvement by all employees. In the earlier phases, much of the effort is focused on the leadership team. There is also a challenge in that a great deal the work is in developing new systems and operating in pilot areas. As a result, there are fewer opportunities to get the entire team involved in more than training. Of course, you will likely have seen a fair number of team members trying to put their new knowledge to use in daily improvement, but with a lack of experienced mentors, their involvement in continuous improvement was far from immersive.
That changes in the ramping up phase. Even though there is still a lot left to learn, the pace of improvement should increase significantly in phase 3. There is a growing list of things to do. There is a growing number of areas that will be participating in the continuous improvement effort. They will be more leaders taking on the challenges that come from both policy deployment goals and daily management.
Most importantly, though, team members will learn to be dissatisfied with wasteful, poor processes. As a result, your company should see a subtle shift during this phase from leaders dictating what to do to team members pointing out problems, and either asking for help or taking the initiative to address the issues on their own.
This is the phase where a continuous improvement culture begins to take root. Up until now, the focus has been on learning and to some degree, convincing. In the earlier phases, the leadership team likely did a lot of “selling” of the new program. By this time, most people in the organization should have seen firsthand the benefits that Lean offers to both the company and the employees. And when people start to recognize the effectiveness of what the leadership team is trying to accomplish, they will be much more likely to commit to the business management system and become a fully engaged workforce.
The biggest factor that affects the time it takes to progress through the ramping up phase is leadership. If leaders are focused on building a strong business management system and are committed to overcoming the obstacles that they encounter, the time will be closer to the two-year number. On the other hand, if there is more checking the blocks and going through the motions of change, it will take significantly longer to cross that threshold where continuous improvement becomes a part of the culture.
Tools and Topics (Highlights)
Poka Yoke / Mistake Proofing
Value Stream Mapping
SMED / Setup Reduction
Advanced Production Concepts (U-Shaped cells, workstation design, etc.)