7 Ways to Improve The Impact of Your Lean Initiative (Part 7)

Posted by Efficiency Works on 20 May 2020, 03:49 PM

PART 7: Leverage the mutual interdependence of Systems Thinking and Lean (Michael Ballé 2009)


John Shook’s Lean Transformational Model helps us focus on the management systems and processes, not just the results.

The Toyota Production System is often fundamentally misunderstood - what you see in Toyota is the result of many, many PDCA cycles that lead to local learning cycles, so standards can actually differ locally across different plants and sites.

BranchThe systems thinking we use should be based on what we call fractal PDCA.  This means that our use of PDCA should be the same whether it is being used by a frontline team or a senior team.  The broccoli stem is structured in this way, with each small branch simply a smaller version of the next largest branch and so on all the way up to the whole plant.  In this way PDCA should be applied in a consistent way at all levels in your organisation.

It is critical that we improve the system as a whole, and keep a full view of the whole system.  Sometimes this means we may need to sub optimise parts of the system in order to improve the effectiveness of the whole system.  This can initially seem somewhat counter intuitive.

Use a system wide, Loss and Waste analysis to identify where to focus people’s attention, and continually prioritise based on $ impact or customer impact.

Ensure we standardise everything important including the problem-solving method that we employ across our organisation.  The success of our Lean culture will ultimately be determined by how well we coach others in the standard problem solving method.  This is a key role of leadership.


How well has your organisation defined your version of the Management System described by John Shook?

What elements of John Shook’s Lean Transformational Model could you embrace in your organisation to combine Systems Thinking and Lean Thinking?


Please spend some time with your team or colleagues reflecting on your organisation and how you could better use the seventh of our 7 ways to improve your Lean initiative – Systems Thinking + Lean Thinking.


PDCASo, in summarising here are our 7 ways to improve the impact of your Lean initiative:

  1. Steering Group to guide and monitor
  2. Begin with the end in mind......and connect the vision with daily management
  3. Understand the important role of leadership
  4. Use Leader Standard Work to understand the customer better
  5. Use Value Stream Mapping to improve flow
  6. Rapid learning cycles using A3 Thinking
  7. Systems Thinking + Lean Thinking


Efficiency Works

Note:  This is the final part of 7 ways to improve the impact of your lean initiative.  Feel free to contact Efficiency Works directly using the links below if you'd like to discuss all things LEAN.

Efficiency Works Email

Efficiency Works Website