You know it’s going to be a tough meeting. Lean is a mindset and comes from the heart, based on desires to change to improve outcomes. As simple as that may be, your boss just doesn’t get it. You have been spending weeks prior to this meeting rehearsing the concepts, practicing every conceivable objection and compiling reams of data. All your work clearly indicates that adopting Lean is the way to go. However, your boss has clearly indicated that they are skeptical and tells you it’s going to be a hard sell to win the day. Well, just relax! The conversation is going to be easier than you think, when you keep things in the proper perspective.
Going into the meeting, understand that selling Lean principles will be too tough. The concepts generally are because they are variable and can be easily argued. Start the meeting by getting an understanding of exactly what outcomes in the organization they would like to see changed and improved. Use Lean thinking to determine what predictor will provide the desired outcomes. Managers will always be interested in outcomes that revolve around the following points:
- Efficiency – Producing more with less.
- Speed – Increases frequency of delivery, or completing projects quicker.
- Quality – Of the product delivered.
- Innovation – Both internal innovation and product innovation.
- Morale – Of staff
- Reliability – Of delivery / predictability of release cycles / doing what we say
Conversations that occur around improvement of outcomes are always better than conversations centered around Lean principles.
The next logical step once outcomes are identified is to quantify those outcomes in terms that managers understand…money! Demonstrate clearly the cost savings of each individual outcome. Your manager may want to argue Lean principles, but they are woefully hesitant to argue against saving money, especially when those costs savings could significantly boost the bottom line. Be factual, calm and let the numbers speak for themselves.
Once you have identified outcomes, quantified each outcome with potential cost savings, now it’s time to go to work. Agree upon one outcome that can be addressed with Lean thinking and principles of the practice. Again, don’t sell or debate Lean principles, stay focused on outcomes. Use your Lean practice and thinking to get demonstrated results and quantify those results financially. When you can demonstrate the value of improving one agreed upon outcome, take on another. Let your results speak for themselves. Before you know it, successful outcomes will transform themselves into Lean successes without a heated debate of principles. Be silent and let your results speak volumes.