Mike Greece, who heads Padilla’s New York Office, has long been a proponent of applying “lean” principles to professional service organizations. Here’s the abstract from a roundtable he’s delivering to the PRSA Counselors Academy Spring Conference at the end of May. Might be an event worth considering if you’re an agency leader.
“Lean, the business philosophy that has driven Toyota’s relentless rise to the top of the auto industry, is making significant inroads into banking and financial services. And the results are impressive. The gains through eliminating waste and improved customer service after adopting Lean are hard to ignore.
In its simplest definition, Lean is a business and operations improvement methodology built on Toyota principles such as cross-functional collaboration, “time management,” reducing “waste” and continuous improvement. Waste is defined as activities that do not add value in the delivery of a product or service to the customer. Examples include waiting time between steps in a process, chasing after missing information, errors, producing unneeded reports, and requiring too many reviews or approvals of work. A key Lean tool is to engage cross-functional groups of employees and executives in collaborative “kaizen events” to map work processes and identify activities that can be eliminated or changed immediately to reduce end-to-end delivery time while also reducing costs and errors.
By implementing the right Lean tools and practices at each level of the organization, they create a continuous improvement mindset throughout the culture. For example, senior leadership may leverage a “value-stream vision session event” as a methodology to support the continuous improvement goal of communicating, translating and deploying a new retail mortgage strategy. Middle managers may rely on Kaizen, Business Reviews, and “War” Rooms to drive weekly and monthly execution to operating commitments. And first level managers and employees may use MDI (Managing for Daily Improvement) tools, Performance Boards, and Point Kaizens for daily continuous improvement of existing processes.”