Most companies working with Lean state their aims as changing the culture of the business to one where continuous improvement is part of everyday life at all levels, or something to that affect. I’ve worked with many organisations across many sectors or industries. In most of the companies I have worked with there are internal Lean folks working towards this aim. They have a variety of titles, navigator, partner, manager, coordinator, etc. There are many advertisements for these positions on various job sites. Most companies that are working towards the above stated goals have these internal consultants.
This is a good thing. However, I see too many organisations putting the wrong people in these roles. Some seem to be using the Dilbert Principle, by putting people that are not much good at anything else in these roles. Others look internally at the front line and get keen but very junior people who often struggle with credibility with those senior to them. Sometimes they get people who are very good at data analysis and digging in to solve problems, but struggle with the human side of coaching and developing others.
The point of this post, if you want people to change your business and the way you operate, then these should be the strongest, most qualified people in your business. Far from a pasture, where older folks go to relax in their final years or a crèche, where the junior troops learn how to operate in your political obfuscation of an enterprise, the internal Lean function should be staffed with the movers & shakers, The ones who can get things done and get people engaged, especially those at the top.
The people you put into these positions, says a lot about your commitment to change and to Lean. Do you truly want cultural change? Or do you just want a few pennies saved by making process improvements to various aspects of your business? If you want the latter, continue putting people in the role who can “do the job” of process improvement. If you want true cultural change, across your organisation, then you need to invest in that change by making sure the people you post to these roles are not just capable, but credible & influential. Otherwise you’re just paying lip service to a new organisational culture.