How To Run Lean Company-Wide - Midwest Direct

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February 7, 2016

How To Run Lean Company-Wide

company how to run lean 
Tips for Production-driven companies on achieving overall organizational efficiency

We all work hard to make production an exact science. We pour over reports and data, invest in technology, and train our people to constantly work smarter – in the name of increasing production, growth opportunities and revenue.

So it’s logical for production-driven companies to ensure their entire organizations are running lean and efficiently. Sales, marketing, payroll, production support, finance, customer service … all departments need to be streamlined and smartly staffed, as a bloated front office cuts into the production profit center.

Startups tend to be lean fighting machines; but as companies mature, they often grow top-heavy and suffer from organizational bloat. Overlap and inefficiency creep through a company like a slowly spreading vine, and before you know it, there are extra people and processes in place that are actually causing organizational drag.

How, then, do organizations achieve maximum efficiency in all areas? Here are a few methods we’ve used or observed:

The hiring and orientation process is critical, starting with hiring independently directed people. Driven self-starters are a must.

A second requirement is excellent communication – you can never stop trying to talk to each other more effectively. Midwest has email groups that include anyone directly or indirectly involved in our various services. It’s not uncommon to watch emails be passed back and forth on weekends – including Saturday night.

Surely an email or two have gone out from smart phones sitting next to employees at the restaurant or pub, and that’s okay – if making 24 / 7 decisions is a part of your culture, as it is in production settings like our mailing services.

Maybe the best advice for companies seeking organization-wide efficiency is growing your employees’ ability to wear multiple hats. Employees bringing competency to several different areas can only take place if you have a strong mentoring program.  Your best people can’t sit on their skills; rather, they need to constantly be sharing them and teaching others.

Organizations seeking to run lean also need to give their employees space to make their own decisions, as log-jams develop if approval is needed from senior management every time a reasonably sized decision is made.

This involves allowing employees the opportunity to fail, without fear of thinking they will now have superiors jumping all over them. Teaching employees to fail, recover quickly, learn, and move on is a very powerful lesson to impart.

Finally, we’ve found that cloud-based computing technology is critical for client and internal teams collaboration. An example is our mail commingling schedule – updated around the clock and through the weekend by both our employees and our customers.

Sharing data and working remotely becomes simple when you are working in a Google Doc, versus passing back and forth a Word document.

 

sharing commingle mail data company

 

So let’s recap. Run leaner by:

  • surrounding yourself with self-starters
  • constantly improving communication
  • wearing multiple hats and sharing knowledge
  • providing the space to fail
  • living in the cloud

Midwest has been running at a pretty lean stride for almost three and a half decades, while still growing in size and scope of services. These are a few of the strategies that continue to work for us.

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