1st Edition

Starting Lean from Scratch A Senior Leader’s Guide to Beginning and Steering an Organizational Culture Change for Continuous Improvement

By Brent Timmerman Copyright 2019
    428 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    428 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

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    What if the problem is you? For organizations just preparing to begin a continuous-improvement (CI) journey, the behaviors of the leadership must transform dramatically for the Lean toolkit to succeed. Many organizations invest in training colleagues about the power of the tools but fail to address the behavior and mindset of the leadership. Unfortunately, misaligned leadership behaviors will counteract any culture change that is attempted simply by pushing the use of Lean tools. This book outlines a comprehensive set of leadership principles that must be understood and modelled by the leadership before the CI Journey can effectively begin.

    This book organizes these leadership principles into a framework of a conceptual model called the "Three Spaces of Lean Transformation." The model suggests that these spaces of Trust, Change, and Continuous Improvement must be consciously shaped, developed, and maintained by the organizational leadership if a continuous improvement culture change succeeds. This book organizes a set of leadership principles -- that supports the culture change -- into each of these three spaces.

    The book is written in the first-person narrative and maintains a mentoring format. This book is for professionals at the very beginning of an intimidating Lean journey and with very little background or formal Lean training.

    Although these leadership principles are framed in the approach of being necessary to support an innovation culture change, the principles are, in fact, those necessary to support effective employee engagement. In addition, this set of leadership principles, if modeled consistently by the leaders, will create an organizational culture that will attract and retain great employees.

    These principles form the strong leadership foundation that must be established in organizations where, previously, many of the leadership behaviors were contrary to what is required by a "Lean" organization. The proper adoption of these leadership principles by an organization will support the long-term success of the Lean journey, and that this will enable a lasting, not a temporary, change to a continuous improvement culture.

    Acknowledgements. Preface. Part 1 Understanding the Spaces of Lean Transformation. Chapter 1 Introduction. Chapter 2 The Three Spaces Model. Chapter 3 Defining Some Key Terms. Chapter 4 The Lean Management Team. Part 2 Understanding the Space of Trust. Chapter 5 The Space of Trust Explained. Chapter 6 Trust Principle #1: Know that culture change is the goal, not the implementation of Lean tools. Chapter 7 Trust Principle #2: Trust that your people are not the problem. You are. Chapter 8 Trust Principle #3: Believe that your people come to work every day wanting to do a good job. Chapter 9 Trust Principle #4: Understand that people become a product of their environment. Chapter 10 Trust Principle #5: Believe that you can change. Chapter 11 Trust Principle #6: Free yourself from the need for external validation. Chapter 12 Trust Principle #7: Trust that better client service results from treating your people well. Chapter 13 Trust Principle #8: Remember that authority matters. Chapter 14 Trust Principle #9: Delegate properly. Chapter 15 Trust Principle #10: Remember that management still has rights. Chapter 16 Trust Principle #11: Always act with respect for people. Chapter 17 Trust Principle #12: Correct workplace behaviour problems quickly. Chapter 18 Trust Principle #13: Talk about problems openly, but focus on solutions. Chapter 19 Trust Principle #14: Give balanced performance feedback regularly. Chapter 20 Trust Principle #15: Thank your staff personally when they do something great. Chapter 21 Trust Principle #16: Discipline only the unwilling, but know that they are few. Chapter 22 Trust Principle #17: Protect your people. Chapter 23 Trust Principle #18: Show loyalty to leadership above you. Chapter 24 Trust Principle #19: Go and see to truly understand. Chapter 25 Trust Principle #20: Respect the leadership chain of command. Chapter 26 Trust Principle #21: Listen effectively. Chapter 27 Trust Principle #22: Understand the true source of your value as a leader. Chapter 28 Trust Principle #23: Be a coach, not a judge. Chapter 29 Trust Principle #24: Coach with questions, not answers. Chapter 30 Trust Principle #25: Eliminate competition in favour of teamwork. Chapter 31 Trust Principle #26: Be congruent. Chapter 32 The Space of Trust—Concluding Thoughts. Part 3 Understanding the Space for Change. Chapter 33 The Space for Change Explained. Chapter 34 Change Principle #1: Recognize that sometimes terminology does matter. Chapter 35 Change Principle #2: Explain WHY. Many times. Chapter 36 Change Principle #3: Be wary of a goal of quick cash savings. Chapter 37 Change Principle #4: Appreciate the value of change management. Chapter 38 Change Principle #5: Communicate everything you can. Chapter 39 Change Principle #6: Find your voice. Chapter 40 Change Principle #7: Challenge the status quo continuously. Chapter 41 Change Principle #8: Respect the current state of evolutionary growth. Chapter 42 Change Principle #9: Start with the willing, convince the skeptical, then deal with the resisters. Chapter 43 Change Principle #10: Remember that we learn by doing. Chapter 44 Change Principle #11: Understand that a presentation does not equal training. Chapter 45 Change Principle #12: Ask them to show you, not tell you. Chapter 46 Change Principle #13: Use visual metrics regularly to teach and reveal, never to assign blame. Chapter 47 Change Principle #14: Embrace huddle board meetings as a part of the culture change. Chapter 48 Change Principle #15: Realize that in an office, 5S doesn’t just mean cleaning off your desk. Chapter 49 Change Principle #16: Be ruthless when setting strategic priorities. Chapter 50 Change Principle #17: Value how an objective is achieved as much as the achievement itself. Chapter 51 Change Principle #18: Set up a structure of aligned metrics to take you where you need to go. Chapter 52 Change Principle #19: Drive towards thoughtfully selected targets on your metrics. Chapter 53 Change Principle #20: Say “yes” more often than “no” at first, then be selective. Chapter 54 Change Principle #21: Celebrate team accomplishments, large and small. Chapter 55 Change Principle #22: Recognize the power and primacy of intrinsic motivation. Chapter 56 Change Principle #23: Teach your leaders to operate in the gray. Chapter 57 Change Principle #24: Protect the culture change. Chapter 58 The Space for Change—Concluding thoughts. Part 4 Understanding the Space for Continuous Improvement. Chapter 59 The Space for Continuous Improvement Explained. Chapter 60 CI Principle #1: Defend Continuous Improvement as an investment, not a cost. Chapter 61 CI Principle #2: Study and adopt methods of time management. Chapter 62 CI Principle #3: Let those who do the job develop the improvements. Chapter 63 CI Principle #4: Plan for success every time. Chapter 64 CI Principle #5: Look for the barriers in advance, and remove them. Chapter 65 CI Principle #6: Choose the right people for an event. Chapter 66 CI Principle #7: Get the leadership out of the room. Chapter 67 CI Principle #8: Scope your projects with care. Chapter 68 CI Principle #9: Take each project over the finish line. Chapter 69 CI Principle #10: Receive with gratitude and implement the efforts of your people. Chapter 70 CI Principle #11: Teach them about the types of wastes. Chapter 71 CI Principle #12: Solve the right problem. Chapter 72 CI Principle #13: Run an experiment to improve something. Chapter 73 CI Principle #14: Share widely best practices. Chapter 74 CI Principle #15: Adapt and innovate when you adopt best practices. Chapter 75 CI Principle #16: Strike the balance between innovation and standardization. Chapter 76 CI Principle #17: Drive towards effective daily kaizen. Chapter 77 CI Principle #18: Plan for your obsolescence. Chapter 78 CI Principle #19: Reflect and improve. Chapter 79 The Space for Continuous Improvement—Concluding thoughts. Part 5 Understanding the New Way. Chapter 80 Putting the Spaces Together. Chapter 81 Striving for Congruence. Chapter 82 Show Them It’s Possible. Chapter 83 It Feels Different in Here. Notes and References.


    Brent Timmerman has over 20 years of work experience in both the private- and public-sectors. While completing his master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Manitoba, he accepted an engineering position at a local aerospace company based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This company had a strong continuous improvement culture and was rapidly expanding across the globe into different markets and locations—as a result, Brent had the benefit of travelling around the world supporting new facilities as they were set up to operate to follow the same practices as the head office. Kaizen, kaikaku, huddle meetings, and visual metrics, among other typical Lean management elements, were introduced at each site. Brent transitioned into an engineering management job in 2001, and then held several engineering director positions until leaving the organization in 2012 to join Manitoba Housing.

    Brent’s first role within the social housing crown corporation for the Manitoba Government was the executive director of asset management, where he was responsible for a branch of over 65 staff, a capital budget of over $80M (Cdn), and the capital upgrade projects for a portfolio of over 3500 buildings across the province. After two years, Brent was selected to serve as the chief operating officer for the corporation, where he was responsible for all aspects of operations, a staff of over 430 personnel, and an annual operating budget of over $100M.

    In 2014, Brent was made the executive sponsor of the corporation’s Lean transformation, in an organization that had no experience with any of the methodologies or tools related to Lean or operations excellence. It was this responsibility, to champion the integration of the culture change and the tools from the industrial origins of Lean into a completely new setting, that gave Brent an appreciation for the challenge that many leaders face when beginning a Lean journey for the first time.

    After four years as COO at Manitoba Housing, Brent was asked by the deputy minister for the Department of Families to assume the role of Chief Innovation Officer for the Department. Brent is currently in this role, where he supports approximately 2,500 government staff across multiple divisions with the development of a continuous improvement culture and supporting methodology.

    Brent is a registered Professional Engineer in the Province of Manitoba, a certified Project Management Professional with the Project Management Institute, and a certified Lean Black Belt from Lean Sensei International. He holds both Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Manitoba. He lives in Winnipeg with his wife and two children.