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During Strategic Planning, your True North doesn’t Change
Episode 18028th October 2020 • American Lean Weekday: Leadership | Lean Culture & Intrapreneurship | Lean Methods | Industry 4.0 | Case Studies • Tom Reed: Lean Enthusiast & President of American Lean
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Is your organization preparing their strategic planning efforts for next year? I’m sure everyone is eager to complete 2020 and move on. Regardless of how your business has changed, one thing that shouldn’t change is your True North. Your True North doesn’t change.

It is the guiding element that your company truly believes in. Your culture develops because of your True North. Your decision making follows your True North. It guides everything in your organization.

If you have outgrown your original True North, then it makes sense to review it. I’m sure some elements will remain regardless of how your company has grown. How you treat employees and customers might remain the same. How you operate your business within your city will probably remain the same.

What might change? If you say the company will deliver year over year increased sales of 20% for the company, that might need to be adjusted. If you have certain shareholder return numbers in your True North, you might need to review those numbers.

If you want to know what framework I use with companies to develop their True North and develop their Strategic Plan for the year, it is called the Lean Game Plan and consists of four simple steps:

1. Define your championship (Vision)- The first step is for leadership to agree upon what the True North is for the organization. This translates into a Lean Management System. Leaders must agree upon a few Key Performance Indicators that measure the performance of the business. 

I had a client whose mantra was to measure what matters. They went from measuring thirty KPI’s to about six. Guess what? They gained much more clarity in their business decision making and they made rapid gains in a short period.

Establish a Lean Game Plan that includes Lean activities scheduled a quarter at a time.

2. Employee training camps- This should go without saying, but I’ve seen many organizations skip this step or try to take shortcuts. It is important to train everyone in the organization on basic lean concepts. You aren’t trying to make them experts but expose them to Lean concepts. This helps provide a background they can rely on when they take part in RIE’s.

3. Follow the Lean Game Plan- Using Value Stream Mapping as your backbone, identify waste in your processes. Focus on removing the waste using Rapid Improvement Events or Kaizen. Schedule the events a quarter at a time and make sure they occur. 

Ensure teams have a report-out after every event. Video the report-out in case members of leadership can’t attend in person. They can watch the recording and provide positive feedback to the participants after the report out. That feedback is a key ingredient in generating employee engagement and culture change.

4. Half time adjustments- Review your RIE library quarterly. After you have been conducting RIE’s for a while, you will develop a library of events that are completed. 

Have a monthly meeting to review the events, formally close events, and ensure you are sustaining the gains. If you are not seeing improvement to your KPI’s after two quarters, don’t be afraid to make changes. Sports teams often make half-time course corrections and you should do the same!

The organizations I have coached over the years that adopt this simple framework have better results compared to organizations that don’t.

As always, it is an honor to serve you, and I hope that you and your company are getting better every day!

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