How lean are you? Part 1

This is the first post of the “Lean assessment series” dedicated as its name tells to organizations’ leaness assessment.

One common and easy way to assess leanness is to check the organization’s lean awareness. This is usually done using a five level scale ranging from “barely any knowledge” to “top awareness”.

Assessors use question grids and score awareness according to answers and sometimes proofs and evidence. In the example below, the grid is built on five levels reflecting the judo / Six Sigma belt hierarchy. A set of questions or statements faces each level. If the respondent meets the requirements enclosed in questions or statements, the level is checked.

Lean Assessment Grid

Lean Assessment Grid

These grid usually come with reminders of proofs and evidences the assessor can ask or seek.

The assessment uses several grids, one per theme, several topics per theme, several items per topic, structured like this for example:

 Assessment Grid structure

One common way to summarize the results of all grids is to display a radar chart. Each theme is shown on an axis, the leaner , the more the surface covers the graph. Indents in the graph show the fields candidate for improvement.

Radar Chart

This kind of assessment is rather basic and assumes lean awareness leads to better performance as lean-aware organizations are supposed to think and act according to lean principles and use lean tools and techniques, thus are more efficient.

In reality I haven’t seen many lean-aware organizations, rather some lean-aware executives and middle managers with waning souvenirs about this or that tool.

This leads to the illusion of top management and the clear cut in the pyramid.

Cut in pyramid

While the lean aware top management believes lean tools and principles they mentioned or even promoted have dripped down to the shop floor, the latter has no knowledge and does not use any of them.

As top managers seldom tour the gemba and don’t pay much attention to the shop floor trivialities, they keep sitting in their ivory tower believing Lean tools and principles are in place.

The correlation between lean awareness and operational performance is not questioned either.

In the next post, we’ll see how to improve Lean assessment adding one more dimension.

>How Lean are you? Part2

You may also like: The fallacy of maturity assessments

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The Lean Advancement Initiative (LAI) at MIT offers LAI Self Assessment Tool (LESAT) for free download:

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