Case Study Business Performance & The 16 Habits of Lean Leaders

Part 1

Habit 10: The Habit of Building & Leading your Team & How Good Leadership & Management Habits should come before implementing Industry 4.0 in your factory!

Client & Industry:

European supplier of manufactured parts to the automotive industry, global reach.

Size of Plant in case study:

Case study initially focused on one European plant with a sound record of performance within the European group. The plant successfully produced and delivered injection and blow moulded components as well as assembly of sub-engine parts to the key automotive industry giants. The group approach to lean was process driven with little understanding to the true meaning of TPS and its inherent people and culture approach. This was verified by a meeting we had with the group CI lead and the group VP for operations.

Project Challenge:

The request from local management was how to increase the motivation and engagement of employees in the plant.  The case study revealed six weaknesses in the organisation.

  1. A lack of understanding and skills by local management in how to engage with shop floor employees. This was most apparent when observing the daily production meetings.
  2. An incomplete and muddled approach to basic problem solving skills.
  3. A mis-understanding of how OEE should be measured, visualised and managed.
  4. An insufficient practical understanding of the use of Genba and Genchi Genbutsu.
  5. Inappropriate management of TPM and its effective and efficient influence on OEE.
  6. Unnecessary pressure from head office to implement key elements of Industry 4.0, not being aware that first leadership need to learn to manage, then enhance leadership and performance with Industry 4.0.

The assignment was to address point 1 above, namely to improve management ability, both middle and senior management ability, to engage and motivate shop floor employees. I think anyone reading this article at this point will appreciate that points 2 to 6 follow from point 1. What I mean is that by learning to manage people, the remaining challenges will, as a result become much easier to resolve. I admit that point 6 was outside our influence, but it did allow the plant to properly prepare for Industry 4.0, implementation.

This case study utilised several key habits from the 16 Habits of Lean Leaders in order to reach the desired goals of the project assignment. The assignment was planned out over a nine month period with an intensity of two, two day visits each month. The initial three months required more intervention days from lean leadership Sensei coaches.

The key take-away from this case study is “don’t implement Industry 4.0 without improving your ability to manage and lead the employees”. Industry 4.0 is not a back door to successfully leading an organisation”.

This case study article will focus on Habit number 10, which is a team building Habit, The Habit of building and leading your team. Finally, we will show the benefits of implementing the 16 Habits of Lean Leaders as a perquisite to introducing Industry 4.0 into your factory.


With Habit 10 we will explore just three out of nine parts which will include:

  • Why Toyota treats its members as family?
  • How leaders are taught to build their authority at Genchi Genbutsu (publicly unavailable information)?
  • How Genchi Genbutsu, problems solving, building ones authority and engagement of employees work in synergy?

Habit 10  has to work closely with other habits from the “16 Habits of Lean Leaders”, of course. This habit has been chosen as it is particularly relevant in this business assignment. We also wanted to demonstrate that even multi-national corporations, with highly developed lean and people development teams, can make significant culture changes, improve business performance and adapt to Industry 4.0 much easier by implementing the 16 habits.

Size of Problem:

Management and production team meetings efficiently run but not effectively run. In other words, motivation and engagement at the meetings low, kaizen ideas from shop floor a rarity. Problem solving way below the standard one would expect from an automotive global player trying to follow Toyota methodologies. Daily production meetings were a classical case of finger pointing and management not knowing the facts of problems. Visualisation of KPI’s was just not appropriate to know what was actually happening in the factory. Clearly, these meeting were a little less interesting then a funeral, but were more efficient in covering up the problems (corpses)!

Consequences of Problem:


Pressure on plant director to show performance improvement and be well prepared for expansion of the factory.

In addition to increasing production by the installation of three additional extrusion machines, the plant had to push forward with implementing elements of Industry 4.0, which is characterised by 4 foundational technologies applied along the value chain.

In this case, the plant management had to implement pillar 1 of Industry 4.0, namely “ Connectivity, data and computational power”. Reducing this to a less grand and more practical description, the plant had to automate the registration of OEE on all lines, with visual on-line screen input and information per machine location or work-cell, automate the Kanban system fully (no more use of the cards).

Artificial intelligence (AI)allows greater connectivity between people, information, and machines, improving how manufacturers optimize products and processes. Just as manufacturers have benefited from Lean Management principles, AI promises to be the next evolutionary step in productivity advancement. We challenge this statement!.

Unfortunately, I have some bad news for any one who thinks Industry 4.0 or AI will sort out your people problems or to put it directly, your leadership style issues!.

The simple harsh truth is that you must always first learn to lead then gradually implement the resources of technology to enable the engagement of employees and enhancement of business performance.

By employing the 16 Habits into your leadership style you will;

Increase employee engagement, improve employee self-reliance, create a problem solving culture at work, nurtured by building trust, mutual respect and dignity.

In PART 2 of this case study, I will go through Habits 10 as described above.

Build you organisation by allowing your people to focus on structured problem solving.

What Toyota focuses on is “Developing People through Problem Solving”, with a great deal of support mechanisms around the word “SUPPORT”.

In the case of this business, the support came from the 16 Habits.

I hope this case study has shown how this system works and why it works.

If you would like to know more, please contact me, Mark Forkun on: