Lean tools for the CEO in a hurry

X — I remember discovering lean tools at my first job but that was long ago. Hearing you talking about it has sparked my interest again: any tips on what tool I should try at my company?

Me — Forget about the tools, there are too many of them. Maybe you want to start with a couple of books with stories about lean turnarounds, I’ve got a dedicated bookshelf at my office.

— I don’t read much, sorry. I’ve also heard kanbans were interesting though really hard. Maybe something else, more palatable?

— Sorry, you need to embrace Lean to the full or you’ll just pick up the low hanging fruits.

— Sounds good enough to me, picking up the low hanging fruits is already a quick win. Where do I start?

Me, disheartened — Since you’re a e-commerce company, the shipping area should be interesting enough. Go there, look for missed deadlines, try to remove any blocker and set a target of halving the bad and doubling the good.

X, interrupting — But that’s the job of my logistics manager! Not mine.

— If you can’t pierce through silos within your own company, nobody can. That’s part of the CEO magic. The real lean transformation always start with a CEO. In France, the biggest IPO in 2021 was Aramis Auto: its CEO went as far as co-writing a book with his sensei (among others). OVHcloud did follow a few months later with a much-anticipated IPO as well. Guess what: in 2018, it was already hosting lean events.

— Funnily enough, it’s my CTO that really enjoys taking a break from his coding routine by doing some picking with the front-line staff for an hour or two.

— Let me guess : you know have a picking app that’s stellar.

— I don’t know. And how would I know anyway ? That’s his job by the way…

— All right then, what’s your job?

— What do you mean? I’m the CEO, and that’s what it is ! And by the way, thanks to our determination through the pandemic, we’ve just had a great year.

— How do you know it wasn’t just luck?

— …

— Maybe a visit to the warehouse could help : just standing there and listening deeply will probably bring clues. And if you ever need to justify yourself, for example if someone asks you what you’re doing there doing nothing, just say you’re practicing Genchi Genbutsu. It’s one of those Lean tool you were asking about after all.

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