Employee Empowerment - Why So Important to the Lean Management Production Process?

& Todd's Lean Management Tip - Determining Non-Value Added Business Activities
By Todd L. Poe

Happy Employees Pic

Employee buy in is very important to the lean production work cell process. Why? Because the employees in each work cell are usually the first ones to see quality nonconformance issues. Employees who feel that they are cared about and respected are most likely to work hard to prevent and catch quality nonconformance issues in their respective work cells.

Once you have gained the respect of your employees through honesty, and if possible, employee incentive programs, you can move to "Self-Directed Work Teams". This is also sometimes referred to as employee involvement teams. Often a team leader emerges or is named based on experience or knowledge of the company/work area. In the initial ISO 9000 Process Implementation, this was referred to as, “Grandfathering”.

What is Grandfathering?

A grandfather clause (or grandfather policy) is a provision in which an old rule continues to apply to some existing situations while a new rule will apply to all future cases. Those exempt from the new rule are said to have grandfather rights or acquired rights.

For example: If the initial team leader with the most knowledge should leave or retire, and a new employee is hired that has the same knowledge and/or experience, he or she could be named as the new team leader under the grandfather clause.

When the employee involved/self-directed work team begins, it is time to support the transition to a self-directed workforce, capable of managing their own areas with greatly reduced supervision and oversight. The team leader is responsible for the implementation and performance of the work cell. Take a look at the self directed team processes below:

Self Directed Team Process

  • *Production output, quality, delivery, and controllable cost performance.
  • *Line balancing, and mixed/level-loaded production (Production Leveling).
  • *Cross training and team behavior
  • *Performing kaizen (everyday improvements) DMAIC Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control.
  • *Maintaining the work area 5S (cleaning and daily equipment maintenance).
  • *Problem solving.

Supervisors/Managers build capability, guide problem solving, coach, and mentor the team. They may have more work teams reporting to them. Again, this is called Employee Empowerment, Self-Directed Work Teams. The daily task load is shifted to the teams.


When moving to a Lean work cell environment, the teams and the supervisors/managers will need training in new skills of conflict resolution, teaming, coaching, and communication. A complete Management Review Training in Process Improvement.

Todd's Lean Management Tip - Determining Non-Value Added Business Activities

Lean Management Process Evaluation and Improvement is always needed for the advancement of the company. This is true for the office, shop floor, or warehouse. This version of Todd’s Lean Management Tip helps you to sift out non-value-added activities in your company’s business processes. The types of Non-Value-Added (NVA) are endless.

It is a constant never ending battle for excellence or business management comfort. Below is a simple method that you can do to determine or sift out non-value-added activities in your company’s business processes. The types of Non-Value-Added (NVA) are endless.

Example: Non-Value-Added (NVA) or waste (Mudas): Activities that add no value from the customer’s perspective and are not required for financial, legal, or other business reasons.

Tip: Pick an activity. If you eliminate the process now, would any customer (internal or external) know the difference? If not, the work is probably non-value added.

Applying this method in your areas of Lean value-added concern is important. You always need to evaluate ways to save time, money and evaluate how to maximize profits with the best customer service, without internal company process “overkill” or “undervalue.”

Special Note: Many Non-value-add costs are “quantized” – which means, you cannot eliminate the cost until the source/service/action item is completely eliminated.

About Todd L. Poe

Todd L. Poe, LSSGB, LMC, BS, STC is a is a Business Partner, Strategist and Lean Management Consultant for MoPoe & Associates, a Growth Strategies, Training & Business Support Company. MoPoe & Associates specializes in Technology and Marketing Solutions with a focus on helping clients with their behind the scenes marketing, visibility, and growth strategies that are essential. Todd is also a Purchasing Executive. He teaches business owners, CEO’s, and sales professionals the art of selling from the other side of the desk and how to get the decision-makers attention.

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