May 16, 2020

Everything you need to know about lean leadership

Lean Leadership
lean manufacturing
4 min
Lean manufacturing 101.
In my view, Lean Leadership continues to represent the biggest challenge for organisations attempting transformational change. It is challenging because...

In my view, Lean Leadership continues to represent the biggest challenge for organisations attempting transformational change. It is challenging because fully realising the value of Lean requires a change in how we think, work, behave and lead. Changing behaviours is a long process, and, just with kicking a bad habit, an abrupt change or withdrawal is rarely effective over a longer period. As such, behavioural change needs to be approached incrementally, taking on one or two behaviours at a time. And because everyone is different, each individual will experience their own personal improvement journey on the way to the target Lean Leadership behaviours. All this requires a real time commitment, and the support of a coach can be crucial to creating and sustaining a continuous improvement culture.

What is a situational coach?

In business, coaching is a key enabler for individuals and teams to reach their full potential. But just as in sport, where the most talented players do not necessarily make the best coaches, business leaders often need to develop the skills required to be good coaches to their teams. Situational coaching is a key element of an effective transformational programme, aiming to provide a safe and supportive environment to guide leaders through their own personal development journey in the context of their daily activities. The practice supports leaders to become role models for Lean, giving leaders an opportunity to reflect on their own behaviours and identify key points that can make a difference. In that way, situational coaching can close the gap between Lean tools and Lean thinking.

Cascading the coaching model

A cascaded coaching model takes the Lean behaviours passed on by external coaches through the situational coaching process, transferring them throughout the leadership hierarchy.  By advising senior leadership, external consultants can develop an organisations’ internal coaching capability and ensure that improvements are passed down and tangible benefits are being realised.

It starts with deep and narrow coaching, with potential coaches within the organisation identified based on both their knowledge of Lean and their ability to coach and mentor others. Specific training and on-the-job support should be provided as required for client coaches to start to connect the layers within their organisation. Once the right behaviours are established in this narrow ‘cross-section’, coaching can then spread across the organisation, firstly adding more teams and then more departments until each leader in the organisation has received the required dedicated coaching support.

Once the benefits of Lean Leadership behaviour become apparent, the effect quickly becomes infectious and a pull is created within the organisation. Once a critical mass of new leadership behaviour is reached, the sustainability of a transformation programme is ensured even before full deployment.

Though Lean thinking can be applied consistently, it is still important to remember that individuals at difference levels have different duties, and as such also have different responsibilities with regards to implementing Lean thinking within their organisation. Executive management need to be able to create a learning environment and translate the voice of customers and business purpose into policies, targets and standards.

The management team should be responsible for defining key performance indicator targets, and must therefore be able to specify improvement processes, and then translate these into optimising the end-to-end value stream. Supply Chain, or Value Stream managers, are responsible for implementing improvement processes and optimising cross-functional work flow. Unit managers must be able to lead cross-functional root cause analyses and optimise process flow. And finally team managers must be able to develop and support teams, facilitating continuous improvement.  All of the aforementioned are key pieces in the puzzle to achieving true transformational change. As such, it is important that these different responsibilities are taken into consideration when cascading the coaching model through the layers within an organisation.

The cascaded coaching model targets rapid but long-lasting cultural change, wherein Lean Leadership behaviours become the norm, by focussing on developing the coaching capability of the leadership team. Key elements include strong executive leadership, expert coaching capability, trusted coaching relationships and situational coaching in a Lean context.

When leaders are true role models for Lean behaviour, this inspires everyone within an organisation to deepen their understanding of Lean, fully engage with a transformational programme, and close the gap between Lean tools and Lean thinking to fully realise the value of Lean.

Darragh MacNeill is a Director at Hitachi Consulting – the specialist international management and technology consulting arm of Hitachi – and Lead of EMEA Operational Excellence. Darragh has over 25 years experience in consulting, engineering and operations management. He is a highly experienced lean practitioner and has been instrumental in developing situational coaching as a key leadership capability at a number of major clients. Darragh has a Bachelor of Engineering degree from the University of Limerick and an MBA from University College Dublin.

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May 12, 2021

Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing

2 min
Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing

Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing


What is Ultium Cells LLC?

Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”

Who is Li-Cycle?

Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.

As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”

Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?

By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.

“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).

"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.

"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.

Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.

"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.

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