What Is a Lean Daily Management System?

By Ron Pereira Updated on April 2nd, 2021

Daily Management SystemIf you’ve been practicing lean for any amount of time you’ve likely heard about gemba walks, leader standard work, and obeya.

To be sure, as individual lean tools and concepts they’re powerful.  But, when you combine them with a few other components you end up with a much more robust lean daily management system.

In this article I’ll provide an overview of the lean daily management system topic.  To learn more be sure to check out our comprehensive suite of Daily Management System videos, PDF overviews, quizzes, and templates.

What is a Lean Daily Management System?

Defined, Lean Daily Management is a system that allows us to know on a daily basis whether we are on track or off track to meeting our goals, to take corrective action, and to check that past actions and improvements are being sustained.

A Lean Daily Management System enables checking both our results and our processes.

First, the system aims to help us serve our customers by doing our best work on a daily basis. Like any management system, it must help us achieve our goals. This includes answering questions such as:

  • Are we winning or losing?
  • What actions do we need to take?
  • Are we sustaining gains from the past?

How Does the Daily Management System Build Lean Habits?

More important for the long-term, the Lean Daily Management System helps us build a set of habits so that lean thinking and practices become second nature. These include setting standards and making plans, making the actual status visible, going to see, checking plan versus actual, communicating, creating alignment across the organization, solving problems, coaching and developing people, and so forth.

Without these habits, many organizations find it difficult to sustain the gains of their improvement activities. Developing these habits help us to sustainably deliver results using continuous improvement methods and tools. The Lean Daily Management System gives us the structure and routine to practice and get better at this each day.

What Are the Essential Components of a Lean Daily Management System?

There are four essential routines in a Lean Daily Management System. The four routines are Daily Accountability Process, Leader Standard Work, Gemba Walks, and Process Confirmation.

What these activities have in common is that they are time-based and involve everyone in the organization. They help us ask, “How are we doing and what can I do to help?” The specific timing, content, sequence of activities, and who is responsible for each varies.

Daily Accountability Process is designed to engage people at all levels in making sure they have what they need to succeed at their work for the day, and to ask for help when this is not the case. Daily Accountability activities may include daily cleaning and checking of equipment, daily safety reminders, shift start meetings, morning all hands meetings, daily team huddles, and tiered accountability meetings.

Leader Standard Work is the routine for leaders at all levels to check on their teams, the status of progress on the day’s work, confirm that process standards are being followed, and find opportunities to coach and develop people.

Gemba Walks offer a flexible yet structured process for identifying opportunities, developing people, and learning about the day-to-day operation.

Process Confirmation is a set of audits of process standards that are incorporated into both routine and random checks.

What Are the Enablers of a Lean Daily Management System?

There are seven essential enablers to building a Lean Daily Management System. These can be considered prerequisites that help the system function. They include team size and span of control for team leaders, KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), standard work, visual controls, an escalation system, competence with practical problem solving, and coaching.

The effort needed to establish these routines and prerequisites will be different for each organization. We don’t need to be perfect at all of them before starting with Lean Daily Management. However, ignoring the need for one or more of these enablers is a sure way to weaken or even sabotage our efforts.

DMS Infographic

Here is an infographic summarizing a daily management system.  Feel free to save the image and share it with others on social media, by email, etc.

Daily Management System Overview Infographic
Click the image for full resolution download

  1. Jonathan Wiederecht

    August 12, 2020 - 7:33 am

    Ron – nice neat package.

  2. gorur

    August 12, 2020 - 11:57 pm

    Very well pictured!!

  3. Mark

    August 13, 2020 - 11:09 am

    Ron, I like the Infograph! Underlining it all is the word discipline!

  4. Kannan Raghavan raghavan

    August 15, 2020 - 1:33 am

    it’s simple breathough to understand and adopt lean daily management system for continuous improvement culture . great efforts

  5. Stratos

    August 24, 2020 - 1:40 am

    Thank you for sharing this!
    Very good work

  6. Mike

    September 10, 2020 - 1:37 am

    Great information for both new leaders and veterans.

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