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The critical impact of effective senior leadership as sponsors of change management is documented in numerous studies on Change Management success. The PROSCI bi-annual surveys since 1998 had consistently shown this as the #1 factor for success, with 3 times more impact than the #2 factor (Structured Change Management). PROSCI named the number one as the Active and Visible participation of the Executive in any Change program.

Unfortunately, their surveys also reveal that executive role understanding sits at an unacceptably low level. This is especially noticeable in cultural change endeavours such as Lean transformation. Literature on this subject seems focused on teaching Executives the Lean tools without dealing much with their unique roles. Without such guidance, executives are often left to simply rely on or delegate to someone who might have more knowledge of the subject. Yet the change role for any cultural transformation is uniquely theirs and simply cannot be delegated. 

PROSCI also states that whereas some roles are enabling and others employee-facing, Executive sponsors are an essential employee-facing role in change management. From personal experience in leading several Lean change initiatives, I can concur fully with this statement as having witnessed an almost direct relationship between Lean success and Executive sponsorship as described. A good example of this was in turning Firestone sites into the Bridgestone Lean model. Here the level of Active and Visible participation clearly correlated with the prediction of results of all other interventions witnessed.   

An important tool for the Executive function in advocating and leading the Lean transformation is that of Gemba CoachingContact us for details on attending or learning more about a Masterclass The Leader as Coach

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