In our four-part series thus far, we have discussed critical implementation issues for the MSP that wants to get lean. We wrote about what Lean actually look like in an MSP, launching Lean and how to break down processes and tasks to implement Lean in a systematic manner. This article will focus on something a little bit different – how to make Lean sticky.  Lean is not something that you simply do for a few months and then let it drift off. Lean only really works when you make it part of the organizational culture. That requires buy-in from everybody, but if you get that commitment you will be consistently among the leaders in your area in terms of margins, and service level.

The case for stickiness

Lean is a philosophy, a mindset, a way of doing business. For Lean to really work, the organization has to be all-in on lean thinking and lean processes. This is easier said than done. As with any organizational change, it will abut against a certain amount of organizational inertia. If people perceive that things work well enough already – and especially if that perception is backed up by profits and a healthy market share – then resistance to sweeping new initiatives is not just common, it’s pretty much expected. Fortunately, there is a wealth of literature on organizational change that illustrates how to implement something like Lean in an organization. For Lean to have a high level of stickiness, the following are important to foster.

Organizational buy-in

It can’t just be leadership. Everybody needs to be on board with making the organization leaner. The good news is that the Lean MSP isn’t about cutting jobs; it’s about making jobs easier, so everybody works better. Do that and you’ll be positioned for growth, so nobody needs to get cut. A big part of Lean is that everybody in the organization should have an opportunity to participate. Ask every employee to write down a pain point, some task or process that they think can be done better. Building a baseline level of engagement early on will help the entire organization adopt lean.


Who doesn’t like a little bribery every now and again? Tie individual performance evaluation to metrics that you want to target with a lean initiative. Empower the employee to help eliminate waste in the processes that contribute to that metric. Tying Lean into how your employees are evaluated will give them ample motivation. And when they succeed, reward them. Give them incentive to always be thinking Lean.

Communication is key

To ensure success, make sure that Lean is part of the everyday discussion. Celebrate successes with the team. Discuss failures openly, without casting blame but rather focusing on the processes and how to do better next time. Visibly show that the leaders of the company are keenly focused on Lean and everybody else will have no choice but to follow.

The next step

This isn’t it, of course. The past four blog posts are really about the basics of getting started. But with a proper roadmap, leadership buy-in, and an understanding of how to break down tasks and processes to look for ways to improve, your MSP should be able to get started on being Lean. Remember, Lean isn’t an add-on to your existing operations that chews up extra clock. Lean is a way of transforming your existing operations to focus on waste reduction and increase efficiency at every turn. It’s a means, and the end is better margins and profitability.

Yes, sign me up for a demo!


IT Glue™ is a documentation platform for MSPs, designed to eliminate waste, improve productivity and help you hit your SLAs better.  Document your sales processes and customer personas in IT Glue, and integrate it with your PSA to enhance your marketing and sales functions.