Management 3.0: what if we simply went back to the “old” Lean formula?

Businesses, employees, all of us in fact, are seeking to set free collective intelligence in order to reinvent ourselves in this ever-changing world. Many are striving to find new approaches to management, but look no further: one method has been working for more than 50 years, namely the good old Lean management method based on Kaizen philosophy that’s well-known in the industry. Here’s how to take another look at an old formula and give it the modern twist of agility.

We all agree that the digital revolution is overhauling current management methods:  it “liberates” businesses through collective intelligence, horizontality and openness. Businesses must be quick in tending to their clients and meeting their expectations, react speedily to changes in behaviour and developments in the competition. Innovation and transformations must, however, be used in a global strategy and be coherent with the company’s vocation.

As such, the challenge of Management 3.0 is to liberate individual or collective initiatives whilst keeping overall coherence and leading the company towards a chosen future.

The formula? It’s been right in front of us for the last 50 years. The foundations of such a system were laid down by Taiichi Ohno with the Kaizen philosophy, and conceptualised in Lean management. So let’s take a little trip back to the source.  

Management 3.0 is already Lean…

The Kaizen philosophy, which has inspired Lean methods, meets the expectations of Management 3.0. As a continuous process of improvement made popular by Toyota at the end of the 1970s, first of all this method involves horizontal coordination which optimises workflow and adapts production to demand. It also involves autonomous, self-managing teams to serve customers better, the inverted pyramid and the notion of Manager-Coach, listening to the customer to achieve excellence and, lastly, continuous improvement that’s underpinned by the strategic direction communicated to the said teams.

These are, then, the components needed for the agile approaches that optimise backlog processing (the list of functions or tasks needed carry out the project), by using Kanban methodology (dynamic flow management) and visual management. These approaches involve the client in the design and approval of services as well as improving their uses. They also rely on coach-led autonomous-teams within an inverted pyramid structure.

Furthermore, it’s this way of working that we’re already seeing in digital factories, the new tools used for implementing digital services. Their way of working is very similar to that of a Lean workshop: autonomous coach-driven teams, Kanban horizontal flow synchronization, constant information sharing through visual management, stakeholders set up in the workshop, constant verification that the company is in accordance with the client’s vision in the design as much as in the approval, etc.  

But this obvious fact doesn’t jump out at us straight away. It must be said that Lean management has had some bad press. Through its set-up, it has often been used as a simple cost-cutting method, often resulting in stricter processes, restricting habitual methods and ultimately curbing initiative-taking, creativity and unscheduled collaborations.

Going back to Lean philosophy

Lean is more a state of mind than an optimisation method. In spite of its age, it is setting into motion ultra-modern modes of management, responding perfectly to this quest for freedom inherent in Management 3.0. Lean is a means for liberating businesses.

So look no further – accelerate or kick-start the Lean roll-out in your company, but with an all-new agile and digital mindset.

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Jean-Claude Lamoureux

Group Executive Director at Sopra Steria Consulting
Group Executive Director at Sopra Steria Consulting for over a decade, I'm leading our clients to the success of their digital programmes by offering creative approaches, collaborative working methods and tools to accelerate the company's digital transformation

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