Need Help Implementing Lean? 

Here are my tried and tested picks to learn and apply lean. 

The Best Lean Office Book to Systematise Your Office Processes and Improve Productivity

Interested in finding the best lean office book that will show you how to implement it in the service and office side?

There are a number of them around. But from my experience, there are many that just don’t give you enough information beyond the very basic 5S or “Go See” principles.

Improvement in the office is not an easy thing to do. Even for someone that’s experienced in implementing lean and continuous improvement. The reason being that, unlike manufacturing, where inventory can be seen moving through the value stream, it’s hard to see information flow.

That means it’s hard to see how its shuffled through processes. IT’s even harder to know what to do about it.

That’s why i looked high and low for a book that could teach me a system that i could use to identify waste and implement the standard lean tools to office functions.

I spent a lot of time and money filtering the good books from the bad. Until I found my little Bible…

My Lean Office Pick

The book i chose and always recommend is Operational Excellence in Your Office: A Guide to Achieving Autonomous Value Stream Flow with Lean Techniques

I can recommend this on experience. It’s what i used to help create a system to implement lean in the office for my clients.

Operational Excellence in Your Office is written by respected lean consultants Kevin Duggen and Tim Healey.

Beyond Just “Lean”

If you want something that cuts deeper than the superficial lean models you’ll typically find, then you’ll find it in this book.

Operational Excellence in Your Office lays out 9 key steps to take to ensure drastic efficiency gains in office processes.

Completing each step, one after the other, ensures that you’ll implement the principles of lean in a way that can literally transform these processes.

If you’re looking for 5S in the office or how to identify waste and streamline process, then this book will give you this… and much, much more.

A 9 Step System to Drastic Step-change

The best thing about this book is that it shows you through the 9 steps, exactly how you’d go about improving end to end processes (or value streams) in the office.

If you want to improve your project management process….

Or HR recruitment processes…

Or Engineering change requests… or anything else… this book will show you how to apply lean thinking to transform service based processes.

These 9 Steps are:

  1. Understand the Takt and drumbeat of your process
  2. Implement continuous flow
  3. Use First in First out
  4. Create workflow cycles
  5. Create integration events
  6. Use standard work to run the system you’ve created
  7. Create single point initialisation
  8. Run to a pitch
  9. Design the system to suit changes in demand (and ‘self-heal’ when things go wrong)

As a decent lean book, It includes the lean tools you’d expect to see, which examples of how to implement them, covering:

  • Continuous Flow
  • Standard work
  • 5S and Visual Management
  • Systems thinking
  • Teamwork

And it allows you to apply these lean tools in a way that benefits the system that you’re analysing.

You’ll be able to see why and how to identify demand and find takt time…through to using 5S to control the process (as opposed to blindly conducting it as a standalone tool), through to creating standard work to ensure the new way of working is being followed.

In fact all the tools are acutely fitted together to give that step-change in lean process improvement – Clearly and easily understood – and with examples as you go.

That’s why, there’s no other book in my opinion, that comes close to this. It’s like the bible to office lean and it’s what i use to help transform my clients’ office processes.

2 Worked Examples

Operational Excellence in Your Office doesn’t just provide you with the theory, it walks you through 2 worked examples. As you learn the concept of each step and how to apply it, it will show you in practice on these 2 worked examples.

The 2 case study processes are:

  • An Hr recruitment process
  • An Engineering process

In fact, the book follows the fundamental 7 principles of an operational excellence programme in the office. They are:

  1. Design lean value streams – follow the 9 steps to improve productivity
  2. Make lean value stream flow – Turn the paper plan into performance and reality
  3. Make flow visual – Make information flow so visual that any outside can walk the value stream and tell if it’s on time or not
  4. Create standard work – To show how people perform the work and how work flows between steps
  5. Make abnormal flow visual – making it crystal clear to see when things are not going to plan
  6. Create standard work for abnormal flow – So the teams know exactly what to do
  7. Have the teams improve the flow – So they can self heal and maintain high levels of productivity

These 7 principles that the book teaches, combine to make a powerful lean office system to implement in your business and for your clients.

What to Look out For

I’ve found that the steps Operational Excellence in Your Office teaches works. And it works really well.

What you must do though, is spend time on change management. This means allowing people to understand what you’re doing, why and how.

These 9 steps will take your team to an uncomfortable place, whereby they’ll question what you’re doing and if it actually works. It’ll be largely alien to them.

That’s why you must spend time getting people used to the ideas and their concepts.

Give them examples in practice – either from the book (there are 2 worked examples that you follow as you learn) or previous projects that you’ve implemented, so they can see it in place. This is critical.

Try not to tell them and direct. Instead facilitate the group. Spend time introducing each step and allowing them to play with ideas and internalise them. Get them to make the steps happen under your guidance.

From my experience, going through these 9 steps and just telling the team what to do and how to do it, will just create tension. This will ensure that the project more than likely will be rejected.

Take the book. learn it. Then facilitate the team through these 9 steps. It’s the most powerful way to get the best out of this great book. You’ll find in next to no time, that it becomes your go to resource to implement lean office.

You can get your copy on Amazon.

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