The recurring trend shows that when companies dive headfirst into the implementation of lean tools, without consideration for culture, the outcomes they achieve mostly disappear after a year. Focusing on lean tools first to improve short term metrics often undermines the power of lean as employees drift away from the tools implemented during short term blitzes. FTE Performance aims to shift this paradigm of lean deployment. Before establishing FTE, the leadership team of the company experienced first-hand the pitfalls of deploying lean tools without addressing the underlying culture of the organization. Soon, they realized that culture change is fundamental to a successful and sustainable lean transformation. Thus, began the journey of FTE Performance Consulting.
FTE recognizes the interdependent nature of operational performance, which reinforces its mission to involve all employees in the lean transformation process rather than having it forced on them. “Culture not only has a strong impact on the rate at which change happens but also on the quality and sustainability of that change. Fundamentally, culture is an asset, not a cost,” begins Nathan Barker, Partner and Vice President of FTE Performance.
FTE’s lean transformation strategy consists of five integrated phases: behaviors, alignment, discipline, tools, and continuous improvement. “Unlike our competitors, we spend a disproportionate share of time with our clients working on the first three cultural phases to establish a solid foundation from which sustainable value and ROI is accomplished during the last two phases,” points out Emily Altimare, Ph.D. Principle and Culture Lead of FTE Performance.
FTE starts every transformation with a three-part assessment that seeks to understand an organization’s culture, lean maturity, and its use of fundamental business systems. During the culture assessment, one-on-one and focused-group interviews are conducted with a diagonal slice of employees from various levels (shop floor to the c-suite) in the organization. The data from these sessions are used to analyze and understand characteristics to be leveraged as well as how adaptable they will be to change during the lean transformation.
In parallel, FTE assesses the company’s level of maturity related to 31 elements of a Lean production system and the client’s use of world-class standard business processes. By understanding the company’s maturity in each of these areas, FTE can build a customized roadmap for fruitful business outcomes.
Culture is an asset, not a cost
In an implementation highlight, a large manufacturer with diverse business processes approached FTE to help improve its production schedule performance. “Their business was expanding rapidly, they were outgrowing their current space and manpower capacity required to meet their new targets,” says John Lucci, Managing Partner and President of FTE Performance. There were also cultural challenges crippling the company’s workflow associated with a lack of respect and trust among workers. To address these issues, FTE performed a deep dive current state assessment examining the company’s culture, business systems, and overall lean maturity. As a result, a comprehensive lean transformation plan was developed that focused on the critical foundation building of desirable cultural norms and behaviors, lean manufacturing principles, and organizational discipline.
Moving forward, FTE Performance strives to be at the forefront of cultural innovation in the lean arena with servant leadership at the core. FTE is also exploring the use and potential benefits of leveraging Artificial Intelligence technology like machine learning, robotics, and natural language processing (NLP) to enhance their client’s productivity, training, and problem-solving capabilities. Lucci asserts, “Our client’s success is our primary concern; we work with them to ensure that they have access to the full potential of their most valuable assets, their people.”