It is a competitive world out there! Organizations are looking for ways to find any advantage over their competitors – and then exploit it. Successful organizations are able to do just that. But if you don’t work in sales, or some other direct, customer facing department, it is hard to see how you can improve the competitive advantage of your company. However, you have more power than you realize.
My first management job was for an internal Help Desk at a medium-sized company. At first, it was hard to see how I could help the organization be more competitive. Then I noticed something: most organizations (mine included) have really good ideas – but the execution of those ideas becomes the hard part. All too often, the execution is bogged down by the organization itself. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!
While there are many reasons why good ideas don’t turn into productive action, a main contributor is what I like to call organizational friction. You have probably felt it, it looks a little like this: you have too much to do, not enough time to do it, and everyone else is in the same boat – and here comes something else you are supposed to do. It’s not that people are actively trying to prevent good ideas from turning into something (generally speaking) – they simply can’t.
If you can reduction the friction, you can improve the company’s ability to execute good ideas – which helps the organization gain an advantage in the marketplace. I realized I could do something.
There is where Lean comes in – here is a working definition:
Lean is a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating waste (non value-added activities) through continuous improvement at the pull of the customer, in pursuit of perfection.
Organizational friction is really just waste. Lean reduces friction by removing waste from processes and “Lean IT” is simply applying the principles and practices of Lean to IT.
Lean gets stuff off people’s plates that doesn’t add value and frees them up to focus on the important things – which means they can start turning those good ideas reality.
These days, IT is vital to the operation of a business. So, what would happen if you removed the organization friction in IT? What would happen if, as a result, IT was able to more quickly respond to the demands of the organization – to enable the execution of good ideas?
You, my friend, would be giving your company a competitive advantage. Sound impossible? It isn’t, it just requires hard work and grit. This is why you need Lean in your IT group right now.
How do you remove friction from your organization? Tell me what you think!