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Lean thinking: Shared vision and goals

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Most organisations have a strategy.  Some organisations succeed in executing that strategy extremely well, because they can engage all their employees. (Think of Proctor and Gamble and Apple) In other organisations we observe that company strategy stays in the boardroom.  As a consequence employees come to work in the morning, go home in the evening without knowing whether they did a good or a bad job that day for their company.

Mobilising all employees in an organisation around one shared vision and goals is, in my experience, an essential part of strategy execution. If you want ALL your employees to know in which direction the company is headed (and how they can participate), the corporate vision needs to be translated into SMART goals on every level. This process is called Strategy Deployment. 

Here are some tips we learned in the field

 

CEO

  1. The visionary leader should think of what his/her dream scenario looks like and explain it in a few words (a vision). Make sure that your vision inspires your stakeholders! For example, “We want to become the nr 1 in our industry” is something your customers usually don’t care about…

Top Management

  1. In line with that vision, what is it you want to see in terms of
    1. Customer Satisfaction
    2. Employee Motivation
    3. Safety
    4. Hygiene
    5. Environment
    6. Quality
    7. Delivery
    8. Productivity
    9. Cost
    10. Translate each element into one single top-level KPI
    11. Update and evaluate these KPIs in a dashboard at least monthly

Middle management

  1. Let middle management translate top-level KPIs, company vision and goals into KPIs and goals each at their own level and approve. Focus on KPIs expressed in money, indicators, ratios, percentages
  2. Ask middle management to update their KPIs at least weekly

Shop floor

  1. Let shop floor people translate middle management KPI’s and goals into a limited set of shop floor KPIs and goals. Make them extremely practical and visual: hours, minutes, pieces, tons, kilos and so on.
  2. Ask shop floor to update their KPIs daily and weekly

 

Even though it sounds obvious, many organisations do not practice Strategy Deployment in an annual and holistic way.  I see several reasons around me, varying from: “We keep our strategy secret” to “We do not see the need, we’ll tell people what to do” (Input management) to “It takes too much time” to “If management has clear objectives it is enough, we do not need detailed goals on the shop floor”

 

True Strategy Deployment takes time, especially the first time a company decides to go all the way. Also, the quality of the outcome is not always to the point.  But shouldn’t we realise one thing?  Most employees are on the shop floor and that is where value is added in the eyes of your customers. 

A Top Management team can only expect employees to implement vision and goals if they are clear, translated to the language of the shop floor.

 

Next week we’ll talk about –“Lean applied to running a marathon”

By Christof Frenay, Managing Partner at Improof Solutions

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