By Jay Monirian

EXPERT INSIGHT – Establishing Lean Culture

In this Q&A session, TriVista’s Jay Monirian describes how leadership teams can foster a culture of lean transformation and achieve significant operational improvement and excellence by addressing these four critical questions:

  1. How can leadership convince the organization that lean and inherent business realities are not at odds?

  2. What are the most important concepts leaders must support for lean management to work in their organizations?

  3. Is there a standard model for lean implementation that can be applied across all manufacturing or transactional business models?

  4. What resources should be provided to management teams responsible for implementing and sustaining lean systems?





How can leadership convince the organization that lean and inherent business realities are not at odds?

Lean management is a more effective way for leaders to do what they already do but enhanced, allowing them to better achieve priorities and take on even more business challenges. Lean empowers an organization to connect to the company’s purpose, the people it leads, its supply chain, and clients. In order to successfully communicate the importance and benefits of lean, a few key concepts must be considered.

Both companies and lean leaders believe the customer matters more than anything. The customer’s perspective, then, trumps almost all other considerations. Employees’ contribution and commitment is critical understanding and realizing voice of customer as well as voice of business. Employees’ continued commitment to improving the organization relies on their relationship between lean management and their own worth. To protect this trust, management needs to rely on cross-training rather than layoffs to keep the organization efficient and operational and further support employee acceptance.

Lean management focuses on organizational improvement by identifying the root cause of problems and taking corrective action to prevent their recurrence. When problems crop up or someone makes a mistake, the first response is not blame. Organizational dysfunction occurs when people are afraid of being associated with problems – they not only hide their mistakes, but also distance themselves from complex situations. Once people begin to feel comfortable uncovering problems, excitement and confidence builds among employees and both organizational and individual performance soars.

It’s not enough to merely want to find a better way. People must fully commit to lean management’s approach and tools, and these take effort for team members to learn, adapt, and accept. Lean management not only initiates better ways of doing business but also acceptance by all stakeholders.

Lean management is a holistic system for achieving permanent organizational change. It is not an isolated project or a collection of tools to meet short-term goals. Effective lean management requires organizational and individual understanding of how the parts in the system are interrelated and align with the organization’s objectives. Without recognizing these interdependencies, efforts can become fragmented as each portion is managed and optimized independently.

Lean management provides a tangible way to translate rhetoric into action. Its common language, methods, and tools create a structure for daily reinforcement, just as practice sessions in music or sports lead to ultimate optimum performance. If lean leaders earn their team member’s trust, the lean initiative can be successfully implemented, and the organization transformed.





What are the most important concepts leaders must support for lean management to succeed in their organization?

Leadership must demonstrate their commitment by first encouraging managers to understand lean philosophy. A great way to do this is to encourage managers to visit other organizations that are applying lean management concepts to their operations; experiencing it live and discussing it with those committed to its practice can make a huge difference in understanding lean management and increase the conviction to try it.

In creating lean management culture, leadership must promote optimum conditions for managers to develop their own insights as opposed to giving them top-down instructions.

Workers will inherently know when the company is acting the “right” way for the long-term because its leaders genuinely believe in serving clients, and conversely they sense when leadership reacts to short-term pressures. Because lean management effectively taps into a company’s vision and objectives, the lean champion’s understanding of the company’s right or wrong actions, as well as their leaders’ convictions and passions, can be monitored and controlled based on facts and actionable data.

change cultureExecutive leaders must step in to inspire and convince team members that they are the collective stewards of the company’s products, change agents for its improvement, and the ones responsible for finding better ways to move the company forward. When team members see that their work has a purpose deeper than making more money this quarter, the result is a culture in which workers are much more satisfied, inspired, productive, and innovative at every level of the operation.


To read the rest of Jay’s insights please click the Download PDF button to the right.

To learn more about business process improvements through lean and our other services, call 949-218-4830, or email

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Jay Monirian

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