Valuable Information

as you begin the Lean transformation

Lean Operating System Maturity Assessment Part 2

Assessment Deployment

The assessment process must be easily administered while being thorough. Initially, we recommend that the assessments are led by outside Operational Excellence experts to ensure non-bias, provide teaching, and provide best-practice examples.  Over time, it can be a process of self-assessment by the Leadership Team of each business unit or plant facilitated by the internal Lean Operating System coordinator where possible to level the ratings (to remove bias).  Periodically, we recommend that an outside resource still be utilized to facilitate new learning and avoid group-think / rut thinking.

The inputs to a sound maturity assessment must start with the foundation mindset being used to drive the business. We have broken these foundations into two categories: Principles and Values.


Depending on your company or industry, you may already have a set of principles by which you base your decision. In order to assess the principles, we describe the principle and what it would look like if followed (e.g. What evidence would exist if it were followed?)

For each principle, we assess using the following scale:

  • This management persistently and consistently…
  • This management mostly…
  • This management often…
  • This management seldom…
  • This management does not…

At Drive Inc. we have a set of seven principles that drive our thinking. We have covered those principles in great detail in previous newsletters, so please visit our website to see those newsletters.

Core Values

All companies must have a strong set of core values. These values are a leadership’s promise to its employees. In order to assess the values, we describe the value and what it would look like if followed (e.g. What evidence would exist if it were followed?)

For each value, we assess using the following scale:

  • This site's employees persistently and consistently display/reflect....
  • This site's employees mostly display/reflect....
  • This site's employees often display/reflect....
  • This site's employees seldom display/reflect....
  • This site's employees do not display/reflect....

You will notice the change from management to employees. We expect management to lead based on principles and model the values. If they are doing so, we should see that being reflected in their employees.

An organization can’t simply adopt someone else’s values, so we recommend the team really spend time developing their company’s values, so those values can be included in the maturity assessment model. Once an organization has created alignment around the values, they can also align their performance management/development process to these core values to ensure the members of the organization are behaving in alignment to these values.

Now that we have covered the inputs needed, we can move on to the process section. For each category (PLAN, TRY, CHECK/REFLECT, STANDARDIZE/ACT) in the PROCESS section, one should define each of the elements and sub-elements. For each element/sub-element, we would assess using the following scale:

4 - Industry Leading

3 - Accelerating/Optimizing

2 - Deploying/Progressing

1 - Awakening/Starting

0 - Undeveloped, little to no evidence

In order to achieve a high ranking, all of the criteria in that element/sub-element must be met. In Drive’s assessment there are 39 Elements and 72 Sub-Elements. Some may see this as too much, but we believe it will provide the most comprehensive reflection of the expectations of the operating system (a comprehensive body of knowledge).

We always caution clients that they can’t asses or audit their way to success. True success is to change the mindset within the business to one that sees the improvement process as a journey where they will never reach the end (True North).

We would also caution companies not to underestimate the value of having the leadership of the company take the time to create its own assessment model. The learning that is gained from this process is invaluable. The best practice we have seen in regard to this is starting with a really good framework and tailoring to the specific company from that point.


Step 1: Communication and Briefing

Start the process with a one hour meeting with the location Leadership Team to introduce the assessment tool and the process, and also go over the definitions (i.e. OEE, TPM, etc).  A copy of the assessment will be given to all attendees.  We will separate the assessment into manageable sections in order to schedule both step 2 and step 3 the following week.  Each individual should read and fill out the assessment alone.  Bring your views and your questions to the group meeting. This will make the meeting more meaningful. We suggest that the Assessment be completed individually within one week.

Note:  While some companies insist on doing these assessments on their own, we recommend that an outside set of eyes that is knowledgeable of Operational Excellence is included in the process.

Step 2: Group Consensus of the Assessment

This should be held one week after step 1.

Schedule time with the leadership team and all appropriate participants to complete the assessment by section. Steps 2 and 3 should be alternated by section. For example, conduct the group consensus for each section, then validate each section by visiting the Gemba.  For each element / line item, we read through all levels for the line and determine as a group where we/you are.  Where applicable, data or other evidence is shown for that category and level.  It is critical that all of the appropriate members of the leadership team are available for this part of the assessment. 

In more detail, we start with the description at the 4 level, the left box. If it does not fit your situation, move to the next description until you find one that fits.

As a management group:

  • - Discuss the descriptions and the state of your business carefully.
  • - Review your own conclusions and share them with the group.
  • - Compare the state of those elements existing in the business with the descriptions and simply measure the approximate rating number.
  • - Rate the item (0-4), and move to the next element. If you think the state of the element is between two numbers then use the lower rating where everyone knows that the criteria for that level is fully met.
  • - Add comments in the column provided

Once you have completed all the ratings, review them for accuracy

Step 3: Gemba Validation

Every category that has been assessed by the group is now validated at the Gemba through engagement of process users and operators.  Optimally, we are asking multiple people the same questions to provide a sufficient sample size to obtain an accurate assessment. 

Step 4: Review Results

Typically, on the last day of the week (the week scheduled to conduct steps 2 and 3) we use the afternoon to review the results of the assessment with the leadership team and other associates who participated that were instrumental in the assessment. 

This assessment is not the answer to all of a company’s problems. It is but ONE input into the strategic planning process and should not be done in a vacuum. This link shows where the assessment fits into what we consider a complete review of the business.

At what level is your team? Does your team have a common understanding of what it will take to be “Industry Leading” in your segment? Are they moving in that direction? If you would like to develop the framework for your company or improve your team’s level of maturity of Operational Excellence using a current model, Drive Inc. can help. We have a team of proven experts in improving business performance. We offer executive coaching, as well as a 200% risk-free guarantee on implementation work. For a no-obligation introduction meeting, please contact Paul Eakle at or 865-323-3491.

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