Lean Management and Strategic Leadership

Lean management and strategic leadership are irrevocably interrelated.

McKinsey defines Lean Management as having four disciplines:

  • delivering value efficiently to the customer
  • enabling people to lead and contribute to their fullest potential
  • discovering better ways of working
  • connecting strategy, goals, and meaningful purpose

We define Strategic Leadership as:

  • Strategic leadership engages people in creative thinking, planning and execution to most effectively accomplish the vision.

In these two definitions

  • “delivering value efficiently” relates to “most effective accomplishment…”
  • “enabling people to lead and contribute” relates to “engaging people”
  • “discovering better ways” relates to “creative thinking, planning and execution”
  • “connecting strategy, goals and meaningful purpose” relates to “execution to … accomplish the vision”

I know that we did not have this correlation in mind when we defined strategic leadership, but the parallels impress me. This tells me that if we want strategic leadership, we can learn a lot from those who area teaching and leading lean management.

As we start our planning cycle for the year, a couple of things that really stand out to me from lean management are:

  • planning is devolved to the front line, not Area, National and Team leaders
  • better ways of doing things are discussed, rather than extending our work from last year’s practices

I recommend the following further reading on lean management:

McKinsey’s Insight introduction article to lean management

McKinsey’s detailed paper on lean management

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