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The Lean Manager (Part 3)

The Project Manager

Today’s topic is the Project Manager. In my humble opinion, this is one of the hardest jobs on Earth. Because the Project Manager needs to respect strict deadlines, he must know and trust his colleagues. He needs to tell them exactly what their tasks are, what they have to do and what they absolutely should avoid to do. Stress? The Project Manager does not know what this word means. He is Mister Solution, there is no problem he can’t solve!

The ideal candidate for this job is an experienced Lean Manager. He must fully concentrate on his team. In reality the Lean Manager is needed everywhere, so he needs a substitute. He needs a Person he can fully trust and who plays an active part in promoting corporate culture. The Lean Manager needs to be a Sensei and train him. He is responsible for him and has to be his superior, his sensei and his friend at the same time.

The Hancho (Team Leader) also plays an active part. The Hancho is already a fully trusted person so the Lean Manager hands him over part of the training. Soon we will write an article about the Hancho, as he is one of the most important people in the Toyota Production System. He is not only Team Leader; as he is always in Gemba and does a lot of OJT (On the Job Training), he also helps to improve processes more than any other person.


The Hancho knows exactly what to do. Because the new Project Manager needs Lean Education. He must be educated the way he can do the things right the first time! For that, he must have a deep understanding of the process flow. He must understand and live the culture.
What is the Vision of our company? It is the job of the Hancho to burn the Vision into the new Project Managers Soul! Because you always need to have (and see!) the ultimate goal!

I can not improve something, if I do not have any goal set and if I do not know how to achieve it!


The trainee needs OJT „On the Job Training“. He needs to go to the Gemba and solve problems. Over and over again! He needs to learn how to observe the process, how to detect problems and how to solve them! When he has fully understood the process, then must set himself a goal and improve the process. Nazesan なぜさん is very important!


The CEO, the Lean Manager and the Hancho have to behave in an exemplary manner. Because the trainees will observe carefully “how Boss is doin’ the job”. The Management must respect the rules!


The new Project Manager needs remarkable communication skills. Therefore he must be trained in rhetorics, body language and manners. He must be able to discern a problem immediately and to recognize if someone is withholding information. So he needs to train his teammates to communicate correctly. In short and precise way the current condition must be explained!


The Project Manager has to ask himself:

  • How do the Gemba-People work?
  • Do they tell the truth or are they hiding something?
  • Is there really a problem?
  • How does everyone work??

He needs to observe very carefully, ust the 5W and always be objective and factual He therefore needs the Gemba-Sight in order to recognize possible problems immediately!


It is of no use if you are only looking who is to blame for. We got a problem, and we need to fix it! Now! The person to blame for should not be scolded, but needs to get told about the problem and to do Hansei. It is much more important that he reflects about what, how and why something went wrong in order to never repeat it!

When the Project Manager (and Lean Manager) grumbels, the employee will be aggrieved. They are in a bad mood, bear resentments, do things wrong on purpose and do not work the way they should. The Project Manager has to see the “human being”!

The greatest virtue and skill a Project Manager should have, is the establishment of truth

Everything we talked about today, is also valid for the Lean Manager. The Project Manager needs some more distinctive skills in certain fields, as for example excellence in managerial qualities or the correct allocation of tasks.

This is all for now, see you soon in part 4!
Team Arashi

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