MBOE recap: What makes a great lean leader?

Fisher Senior Lecturer Mrinalini Gadkari is breaking down a recent week in the life of Fisher’s Master of Business Operational Excellence program. Stay tuned this week for more. 

Peter Ward Master of Business Operational Excellence MBOE
Dr. Ward, at a recent MBOE session.

You’ll hear time and time again that no truly successful lean transformation can take place without leadership that’s on the same page. So what kinds of leaders are successful at sustaining lean operations?

Here’s an eight-attribute list from Dr. Peter Ward, which he highlighted at our recent MBOE session:

  1. Engaged: They learn and teach, they don’t delegate systems thinking, they constantly spread the word and are constant even when things go wrong.
  2. Persuasive: They pose a simple and clear argument and use data and stories to support the change, relevant to the type of audience they are addressing.
  3. Process-obsessed: A good lean leader knows that results are a consequence of good processes.
  4. Good manager: Go to the gemba regularly, establish accountability for maintaining processes and apply visual controls
  5. Ask questions: “What do you think the problem is?” rather than “Why do we have a problem and who is responsible?”
  6. Deliberate: They start with the problem and pursue several potential countermeasures in parallel
  7. Persevere: They have a constancy of purpose, even when things go wrong they stick to the lean way of doing things
  8. Experiment: Problems are the fuel for the improvement engine and countermeasures are hypotheses. The only failed experiment is when we don’t learn.

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