Management Capacity Webinar : Questions and Answers


Thank you to all who attended the January 24  Webinar “Management Capacity: Creating Standard Leadership Roles for the Lean Supervisor” – if you missed it, click here to view the recording.

There were a number of great questions asked by attendees during the Webinar. Mike Boucher, VP of Client Services at Lean Advisors shared his insights and knowledge. Below are Mike’s responses to questions posed at the webinar:

Q.  What is the right time to apply the management capacity program?

A. We have found that management capacity can be applied throughout the 3 phases of our Lean Transformation program. In our Foundations phase, we set the strategic direction with the stakeholders and begin selecting value streams. Often, at this stage, we identify areas where managers or teams are overly stressed to try to support other activities.  The goal is to move change forward where it is critically needed but if our management team isn’t capable of providing the support and resources to make that change happen, then we would introduce the management capacity program to free up time in order to enable the necessary change in the identified areas.

In the second phase, (VSM phase), we assess our current state, develop our future state and create an implementation plan. Once we’ve reviewed the implementation plan and understand the resources required to support the kaizen events, we begin to identify that it might be too aggressive given the available resources. At this point, we would stop, reassess and create the opportunity for the managers to be able to support the implementation plan. Again, we would introduce the management capacity program as a stepping stone to leading our process change.

The third element involves the execution of the kaizens and implementation plan. Quite often, a great implementation plan begins to fade away on us as delays begin to creep in and we lose momentum. At this point, senior leadership needs to take a step back and acknowledge the resourcing issue and lack of management support for the value streams. In order to support those mangers, we would introduce the management capacity program to free up their time and place structure into scheduling the change elements that we’ve introduced in the implementation plan.

Q.  Should we introduce the program across the entire organization or should we introduce it one department at a time?

A. This is not always a straight forward answer. I often ask the organization to look at what their success rate has been in the past in terms of resourcing, programs and making change happen. Often, the answer is “we don’t have a very good success rate.” So, my recommendation typically is to focus on the area where they are trying to drive change first. They should focus on the critical areas, the crisis issues and where crisis is happening and then we figure out how we’re going to resource again and put in the necessary time as senior leaders to support the change.

Q.  Would these assessments be conducted with different levels of management separately or together?

A. In terms of the assessments, I would look at it from a value stream perspective. Who is the management team within the value stream? And within that value stream, I would want all managers, regardless of level, to participate in the program. One manager or supervisor may be creating the problems for someone else, so if they are working on it collaboratively and collectively and doing their reviews as a group, they begin to address issues from a team perspective – rather than individually.

Q.  Can you give an example of a value stream for an office manager?

A. In terms of an office or admin environment, I often see manager’s time tied up not really addressing what they are directly responsible for but actually focusing a lot of their attention in other areas. In particular, I’ve seen a lot of managers putting a large amount of time into a hiring process, perhaps an area that they don’t really excel at but end up being dragged down and spending a lot of their time supporting the hiring process and it’s taking them away from their actual day to day responsibilities and the things they are directly responsible for.  That is not to say the hiring process isn’t important but we need to understand what is the goal of these managers in the hiring process and what can they realistically do and what work should be moved to where it belongs. In many cases, this is because it can be done more effectively. In other cases, we are just duplicating effort.