First off, let’s look at what Lean is:

Lean is a culture. It is a philosophy of continuous improvement. Lean was first introduced into manufacturing by Henry Ford and later adopted by Toyota after WW2. It is now commonly referred to as “TPS” for Toyota production system.

Lean can be found everywhere in business and is applicable to all business. It is not restricted to only manufacturing. It has great implications with service based companies as well. The great thing is that wherever a process is present there is opportunity for a lean approach and since MSPs are built on a foundation of processes and service, Lean is very applicable.

The basic premise is that you use lean methodology to eliminate waste in all your process and keep only what is of value to the internal and external end user. Waste is described as that which adds costs and time with no value to the end user. Lean is also the strategy alignment between operational, supply chain and corporate initiatives. The three key drivers of lean are people, process, and technology.

How MSPs can adopt Lean:

  1. Start with a very simple shift in mindset. That shift is to empower everyone to become introspective, transparent, and demonstrate absolute accountability to each other and clients.
  1. Get training from experts. There are many great companies out there that teach Lean. Find one in your area and enroll.
  1. Choose a few champions to become certified. Make sure you have representation from all levels. Nothing will kill a Lean program faster than if there is not buy in at all levels, particularly the executive level.
  1. Start with the basics and grow from there. Keep it simple and don’t take on too much too soon. Also, do not “sunburn” everyone with your new found Lean knowledge. Start slow and gain the trust of everyone. I would also give it some time to make sure you are grounded in the basics and you are really using Lean before you enroll in any advanced courses.
  1. Start a Kaizen club. (Kaizen = continuous improvement). Invite others into the group and build momentum by soliciting feedback on areas of improvement.
  1. Give it the time it deserves. Make it part of daily, weekly, monthly activities. Do not treat it as a shiny object.
  1. Give it the budget it deserves. Any amount of money you spend on Lean training and implementation will be more than made up with the improvements in process and service.


The result

Lean has tremendous impact on overall culture because by looking at all your processes, eliminating waste and only keeping what is of value to the end user, you empower your teams to be problem hunters and solution creators. Cultures that empower their teams to be problem hunters and solution creators, foster an open environment and even greater security for all as no one is withholding based on fear of loss of job. Your brand also gets a huge return on energy because you focus on the root cause of a situation vs. trying to fix the symptom. Traditionally in lean, the symptom has nothing to do with the root cause. The other big impact on overall culture is that lean allows you to get the emotion out of the equation and make decisions based on fact and clear thinking. It ties nicely into critical goals, key activities, and lead indicators and is easy to understand and execute around. The net result is change becomes the normal and is embraced. This is a great culture to have.

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David Reeve is an award-winning brand and culture builder. His philosophy: “Inspire greatness in everyone, everywhere, and leave them better than I found them.” Fueled by his personal purpose, David founded Unleash Culture and is on a mission to help brands build amazing cultures and “discover greatness within.”

David has a proven track record of success, resulting in 58 awards for culture excellence for the brands he has mentored and has contributed to building two of the largest award-winning brands in Canada.

Brands that David has mentored have also been featured in the New York Times, Forbes, Profit, Fox Business, Globe and Mail, Success, Fortune Small Business, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Alberta Venture, and Dragon’s Den, just to name a few. David is a published author, founder of five personal brands, and sought-after speaker.

He can be reached at [email protected] or