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As a Lean instructor that has no managerial clout within the company, how do you implement upward into the organization? Especially with officers and upper management?

This is definitely a valid concern that many layers of staff face. There can be opportunities to do this, but it’s kind of a “walking-on-eggshells” art form. The best opportunity would be when meeting with upper management on the overall Lean initiative. I tend to have these crucial conversations with leaders by scheduling a program review. We discuss pluses and minuses, and strengths and weaknesses about the program (I have them identify the pluses and minuses and strengths and weaknesses, not me). Sometimes, they are the ones that bring their lack of involvement to light! Then, they decide what to do about it.

Tracy O'Rourke

Tracy is a Managing Partner at, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at UC San Diego and teaches in San Diego State University’s Lean Enterprise Program. For almost 20 years, she has helped leading organizations like Washington State, Charles Schwab and GE build problem-solving muscles.