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Lean Operating System Maturity Assessment Part 1

What is an operating system?

An Operating System is a strategy that deploys a variety of resources, methods, and tools to improve the organization's systems, leadership, and culture. The operating system provides the company with a sustainable continuous improvement capability for all its core and support business processes that result in improved competitive advantage and provide its customers with better quality and service. The intent is to provide the company with a clear picture of the scope of approaches, methods, and tools required to make the operating system strategy work effectively and to improve business results.

The Assessment Strategy for an Operating System

The assessment process is part of the implementation of the operating system. It is intended to assist business units within each area of the business to measure implementation processes and results in their journey to world-class and beyond. It is intended to provide benchmarks, guidelines for further action, and, most importantly, a clear picture of the breadth, scope, and depth of the operating system. Too many view methodologies like Operational Excellence simply as a set of tools and methods for use in manufacturing or as an assessment of lean manufacturing. The assessment process seeks to place the operating system as the prime driver of improvement in every aspect of the business process.

The Goal of the Operating System Assessment Tool and Process

The main goal is for the leadership team of a site or business unit to measure the current state of the deployment of a Lean Operating System and establish the impact that its deployment has on business results. It also provides guidelines and clues to what should be done to improve those results in the future. It is also intended to broaden leaders’ minds about the strategies necessary to manage an initiative such as the Lean Operating System. There is more to the Lean Operating System than a set of tools or methods. This process should educate and change the way the company does business. The maturity model will never be perfect or comprehensive enough. It will always miss some elements; however, it is broader now than most think it ought to be, therefore, it will stretch and challenge minds to think outside of the box. There are many assessment approaches or tools. We [Drive] do not claim to have a better method than any of the others; it is simply an attempt to be comprehensive, clear, and positive.

Design Criteria

The assessment process is a living document that should continually grow / be improved as our knowledge and experience grow. It should be designed to enable further enhancements to be made. It should also attempt to cover the following elements:

• Evaluate the effect of the Operating System process on business results

• Effect of Operating System on core and support business processes

• Tool to improve the Operating System process and the implementation of Lean Operating System

• Leadership and the Management of change

• Status of core process in respect to LEAN / KAIZEN

• Identify gaps between current state and...

     • Previous assessments (if available)

     • The business goals and expectations

     • World-class benchmarks

• To establish and prioritize targets and expectations for next assessment period for all criteria.

• Must cover Operating System improvement tools, methods and elements that are applied to core and support processes

Structure and Method of Use

The Assessment tool covers three broad elements: the INPUTS required to deploy the Lean Operating System, the PROCESSES used, and the OUTPUTS or RESULTS that need to be measured.


There are two major INPUTS described. Namely, the main Principles required to underpin the entire Lean Operating System deployment, and secondly, the core Values of the business. These Principles ensure that the deployment is comprehensive and has quality measures for all deployment methods. The core business Values underpin the way the culture of the business gets built, therefore, we want to ensure that the corporate values are fully deployed and that EVERY employee is engaged with their execution.


The next major element of assessment is the PROCESSES used to run the business and to execute continuous improvement. These processes are guided by the Principles mentioned earlier and ensure that they accurately reflect the values of the business. The PROCESSES are structured as a flow of actions one would typically take to manage any business. The four-part major PROCESS elements are Planning, Trying, Checking/Reflecting, and Standardizing/Acting, which are often characterized as PTRS. Each element includes a breakdown of technical methods and approaches, the organizational resources and approaches to ensure comprehensive deployment of those methods, and the cultural and leadership requirements.

Planning includes a wide range of diagnosis and assessment work from which strategic and operational plans are built and resources acquired. This would also include full organizational alignment, as well as committed leadership practices that create the supportive cultures at every level of the organization that will ensure a comprehensive and total deployment of the business strategies, plan, and resources. The Assessment Heading Plan and the focus of planning is to comprehend.

TRY includes tactical assessment tools, the deployment of continuous improvement strategies, methods, and tools, the optimal organization of that deployment, and the underlying culture and leadership practices to ensure comprehensive execution. The Assessment heading is TRY with a focus on deployment.

CHECK/REFLECT includes the methods that ensure the execution is sustained, all deployment and their results measured and adjusted as needed, all organizational work aligned and monitored to ensure a sustained deployment, and the leadership practices enforced to build a sustainable, measureable culture. The Assessment heading is Check/Reflect with a focus on discovering the need for adjustments.

STANDARDIZE/ACT includes the actions to confirm improvements as the new way of working by standardizing them as new practices. This helps to sustain those actions for the long haul, or until they are improved again. The "Act" description is the decision to standardize and make the new way the best practice for the process. At this point, this element also includes connecting back to the start of the process, first by doing an assessment of the new current state of all practices to confirm the new state, and secondly to institutionalize those new practices in updated policies and procedures. The Assessment heading is Standardize/Act with a focus on sustainment.


The Final segment of the Assessment is the OUTPUT or RESULTS segment. This segment measures the business and operational results in financial and non-financial terms that are the outcomes of the effort put into the improvement process.

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 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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