This article appeared in the August 2019 issue of MiMfg Magazine. Read the full issue and find past issues online.
Digital transformation is being sought by every business that wants to be a serious contender in their respective industry. Some are digitizing their product, optimizing operations, or reinventing business models. The fear of getting beaten by competitors is real. However, it is hampering lean thinking among business leaders. Many businesses are ending up just copying what their counterparts are doing.
Digital transformation has just begun and businesses have to keep re-inventing themselves. If, as a business leader you concentrate on following trends, you’ll lose the plot. You might not fall behind your competitors, but you most likely will not rise above them either.
Lean thinking encourages uniqueness and transformational growth. As a business leader, seek to be the one charting the path and being unique. Progressive transformational growth will always have you a step ahead of the rest. Digital technologies, large data analysis, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have opened up exciting prospects for virtually all businesses.
Every business should now concentrate on using digital transformations to add unique value to the products or service they offer their clients. Here are four practical steps of employing lean thinking to drive transformational growth.
Find a Clear Purpose
New technologies will keep coming. Technology is evolving faster now more than ever before. Some of the technologies are catching businesses by surprise. Some will scramble to incorporate them in their operations. However, there is no need to rush into a technology which you do not have a clear purpose for.
If you have no idea how a certain digital transformation process will impact your business, take time to consult and learn. Many business leaders have ended up spending a lot of resources bringing in a technology that has no impact on the business. Lean thinking advocates for a clear purpose for any initiative. There should be a connection between the initiative and quality of product or service that your client receives.
Listen to Your Customers
This is where IoT and large data analyses are very important. Listening to your customers is not only about what they have to say. You can collect data from their interaction with them and analyze it to find out more about their habits, needs and patterns. That will give you leverage as you push your products and services to them.
The most important aspect of lean understanding is being able to understand your customers’ needs. Lean thinking, as far as digital transformation is concerned, should be along the lines of how technology helps you better understand your customers.
Digital Transformation Cuts Across the Whole Business
While it is important to first test new technologies within a specific department of the organization, digital transformation should cut across all departments when you decide to roll it out. There is a risk of confusion or lack of coordination if some departments are transformed and others left behind. The impact of the transformation will be better felt if it touches on everything and everyone.
Digital Transformation and Lean Transformation
Digital transformation goes hand in hand with lean transformation. In most cases, digital transformation encompasses the pillars and goals of lean transformation. Start a process of lean transformation, and digital transformation will certainly come in somewhere.
The goal of any transformation should be improved customer value, a better business environment, learning and waste elimination.
This content first appeared as a blog post by the Lean Learning Center.