You know the importance and value of lean production, and you’ve seen the ways in which it can improve productivity and output, increase plant safety, and save money. But as is often the case for those in EHS and Continuous Improvement roles, you’re not the sole person in charge of the operation. It can be tough to sell the higher-ups on anything that requires budget approval, even necessary equipment. If you’re not the one with the spending power, how do you convince your boss to shell out the cash?
1. Commit to selling
Your actual title doesn’t matter. When it comes to requesting project money, you need to commit to selling the idea. It’s not always a natural role for engineers, CI, or safety leaders to take on but it’s important to get your idea funded. The project justification, ROI calculation, and option comparison matter but they need to be presented in a context that gets attention.
What are other leaders in the organization saying they need improvement on?
What was brought up in the last management meeting or status update as an issue?
2. Connect multiple metrics
Don’t get stuck in your role when you’re putting together project benefits. If you’re in safety, an improvement to safety is a requirement, but you can also determine improvements to an operator’s cycle time, production lead time, or floor space. Improving more metrics at the same time with the same solution is the quickest way to get other people to support your idea.
Who else on the team cares about the area you’re looking at?
What other metrics (safety, quality, cost, delivery, etc) have been a focus where you can improve?
3. Learn from history
In an ideal world, your strategic plan connects your project with clear actions and all of which follow a structured, rational approach. There is no ideal world. Your plant manager has certain areas they focus on, certain problems they want to be solved, a certain look they want to achieve. These aren’t always rational, but they are what will move them to approve funding.
What happened the last time your project was approved? Denied? Brushed off?
What projects have been approved recently? What was the objective reason for approval? What other subjective reasons might have applied?
4. Follow the plan
You’re starting from a great point if your operation has a strategic plan or other high-level priorities you can connect to. Connecting your idea to an already existing plan is an excellent way to tap existing funding. If not, pay attention to other changes in the business. New launches, lines or cells working overtime, upcoming customer visits, and planned downtime are all events you can use to create urgency.
How does your idea connect to an existing element of the strategic plan?
What other upcoming events create urgency to implement your solution?
5. Own the result
Close the deal by owning the result. With any new project, the hot potato is always implementation. Nobody wants to make time to take on another initiative and, since it was your idea, this is your opportunity, and your name is on it. The good part is that you’ve coordinated metrics, connected with others who value the result, and aligned with the plan, so resources are available to help. Use the implementation as a way to build your skills and identify the next opportunity.
Who else benefits from this project who will help implement?
What existing resources are in place that you can tap for support?
Apply these 5 steps to any lean implementation, whether a quick improvement, a focused project, or a bigger change. If you are struggling with where to start or looking at a bigger challenge than you know how to handle, contact Geolean to discuss support options and get advice on how other companies have approached similar opportunities.