Lean principles and social networks – a symbiosis in the making

Why are connections through various forms of social networking and online collaboration essential in a business context? What is the value for companies?

Social networks

The communication gap between company’s employees has become more and more noticeable – hardly anyone knows what is being done on the table next to his/hers or in the office or department on another floor.

The consequences of such a lack of communication is not always obvious, but they can certainly have a profound impact on the company. Why, in the context of social networks, we insist on communication to this extent?

The answer is simple – what is being communicated is information and if not spread around the organization through more channels, there will be no collaboration; no fresh ideas and that organization might eventually be replaced by more agile one.

Challenges that many companies that have introduced internal social networks are facing is how to get the real business value. In fact, it often happens that the Intranet is used mainly for static content such as various rule books and in best case, for upload of team-building photos.

Networking

Networking

Collaboration

How to improve collaboration and leverage existing information for the development of products and services as well as expansion?

New generations are culturally programmed for online sharing. E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums, ‘‘likes’’, ‘’friend networking’’ and similar terms and actions are forming a new way of communication, thinking, acquiring information as well as decision-making.

It is quite natural and anticipated that this shift slowly infiltrates into the business sphere. Already, a majority of our colleagues can be found on LinkedIn. The use of forums, blogs, interconnections and ideas sharing is slowly but surely moving in that direction. Although some companies are biased towards and even limit the use of social networks, the reality shows that this is the fastest way for transmission of information, as well as the fact that social networks have a huge role in forming consumers’ perception towards a particular product or service.

Before we go any further, let’s take a look at the second part of this story – lean.

 

Lean and continuous improvement

The term lean is contrived in the eighties of the last century in order to familiarize native English speakers with the principles of business analyzed at Toyota. At the core of what was originally called the Toyota Production System, and today known as lean, is the focus on value and elimination of all the “waste” in the manufacturing process that adds no value.
More specifically, lean is centered on preserving value with less work (cost, energy) and mechanisms that help to remove unnecessary events from the process. There is an increased need for implementation of lean solutions while results of lean thinking are reflected in higher productivity, speed, quality and lower costs.

Lean Principles

Lean principles

Transformation into a lean organization is never completely finished; it is a continuous process. Therefore, every lean organization focuses its main processes on Continuous Improvement – the ultimate goal is to create the perfect value for users, without unnecessary steps or waste – any activity that does not add value to goods or services from the consumer’s perspective.

An example of continuous improvement proces

Example of continuous improvement process

Lean social business – how to integrate lean and social business?

There are many ways, but let’s focus on generating the ideas within the organization. In order to implement continuous improvement, an organization must have a constant flow of ideas from all levels of the organization that create an added value.
Research has shown that the best ideas are often made individually, but on the other hand, the best way to develop them is collectively and collaboratively.

LIKE MY IDEA_logo Idea management solution

This very fact has motivated Croatian company CROZ to develop the idea management tool LIKE MY IDEA (LMI).
LMI is an excellent example of implementation of lean and continuous improvement through the collaborative aspect of social business. LMI as idea management software is permeated with lean thinking and visual management collects ideas in one place in unique and transparent manner. It provides  a simple way of promotion, collection and management of ideas within an organization.
By using LMI, every member of an organization (community) directly contributes to the increase of creativity within an organization, and the community itself can direct and encourage those ideas that are recognized as worthy for further elaboration through simple mechanisms of voting and commenting.
LMI business solution fosters innovation, reduces costs, increases efficiency and competitiveness of an organization on the market.