The Link Between Lean and Innovation
As lean methodologies have started to take over various markets by storm, we’re starting to notice some interesting trends regarding the connection between lean and other areas. As it turns out, there’s a huge overlap between lean thinking and innovation, and good leaders must be capable of spotting those connection sand taking proper advantage of them.
You might already be applying lean in your own work without even realizing it. It happens more often than you might imagine. But if you haven’t taken the time to familiarize yourself with what this methodology is really about yet, you should definitely sit down and learn a thing or two about it.
An Overview on Innovation
What is innovation in the first place? It’s not just using new things for the sake of using them. Analyzing proper innovative approaches usually leads to one conclusion – it’s about improving some aspect of the current situation that is not immediately obvious. In many cases, innovation is about tackling issues that people don’t even realize exist yet. It’s about addressing problems that will become more prominent down the road, but can be ignored for now.
And that’s why there’s such a solid overlap between innovative thinking and lean. Lean is all about optimizing the performance of a system by analyzing issues to get to their root cause, and that closely matches the kind of thinking that you’ll need to adopt if you want to be innovative as well.
How Lean Can Promote the Right Actions
Integrating lean methodologies into your work can be beneficial in multiple regards. For one thing, as we mentioned above, it will push you to analyze issues in detail and figure out what really went wrong in every problematic scenario. This will allow you to resolve problems much more efficiently, and without wasting too many resources.
On top of that, lean will constantly promote optimization within the organization. And the best way to optimize most aspects of any company’s work is to adopt innovative new approaches that address various issues in new ways.
A Slow and Gradual Approach
Keep in mind that adopting a more innovative approach to your problems won’t happen overnight though. It’s a change that impacts the whole company and will have strong implications on multiple aspects of its work, which means that it has to happen slowly and gradually. The good news is that there are lots of opportunities available for learning how this should be done, and it’s up to you to take advantage of them.
Work with specialists who already have experience in that as much as possible. This will allow you to minimize the time it takes to implement the necessary changes and will broaden your own horizons on that topic.
Controlling Innovation Properly
As we said above, not all types of new approaches are worth exploring in detail. Sometimes innovation is about waiting patiently for certain factors to play out, instead of adopting new technologies and solutions that you may not be familiar with. This is something that can take quite a lot of time to understand if you are still new to the field. On the bright side, once you have the basic concept down, you’ll find that it’s like second nature to seek out those problems and prevent them from happening in the first place.
You should have a critical approach to everything you’re implementing in the organization if you want to avoid some of the most commonly experienced negative effects of inappropriate innovation. Analyze every step in detail, and figure out how it’s going to impact your operations in the long run. You can often predict these things to a great extent, and it’s a shame that many leaders don’t put the effort into doing that.
Innovation is a double-bladed knife. It can bring solid progress to your organization, but it can also bring things down significantly. It’s all a matter of how you implement new solutions, and how well you’re able to analyze the potential impact of everything you’re doing. Be slow and patient, and remember to leave yourself some good opportunities for backtracking in case things go wrong. Because in the end, you can’t predict every single possible problem, but you can do a lot to prepare yourself and your organization for them.