I’m sure you instantly see the connection a 13th century Mongolian warlord known to history for his excessive cruelty has to lean strategy deployment. Right?

Of course you do. Genghis Khan successfully created the largest empire the world had ever seen prior to the British Empire of the 20th century, and did so all before 1270 AD.

The Mongol Empire controlled 16% of the world’s land area, which is five times larger than the Roman Empire. And somehow, Genghis Khan was able to manage it all. It really is remarkable.

So how did he do it? It’s quite simple, really: Genghis Khan was a follower of the principles of lean strategy deployment.

Let me explain.

What Is Lean Strategy Deployment?

Lean strategy deployment is the process of executing your organizational goals efficiently, which basically means maximizing customer value while minimizing waste.

This works by implementing two organizational keys:

  1. Clarifying the number one goal of your organization
  2. Recognizing the importance of front-line associates.

Organizations which are unclear about their mission will not be successful. It’s as simple as that. The most successful organizations have a clearly delineated purpose, which guides all of their various actions.

Finding the Right ‘System Aim’

A good aim of the system should:

  • Communicate a focused vision for the operational transformation process
  • Be clear and concise enough for every leader to articulate
  • Generate positive, motivating emotions from associates

Here are examples from several successful, and diverse, companies:

  • Johnson and Johnson – Our aspiration is that, by caring, one person at a time, we will help billions of people live longer, healthier, happier lives.
  • Procter & Gamble – We want to make your day better in small but meaningful ways

A great example is Apple. When Steve Jobs was interviewed early on about Apple’s purpose he stated:

“Our whole company is founded on the principle that there is something very different that happens with one person and one computer … We want to remove the barrier of having to learn technology.”

Organizations (or empires) need this clarity – Genghis Khan’s aim seemed to be conquering his enemies and expanding his empire. It was probably something like, “Defeat everyone, and then gloat a lot.”

Aligning Your Team with the ‘System Aim’

The second part of establishing a lean strategy deployment is ensuring your front-line associates are convinced by the aim of the system, and have the tools to do their job effectively.

In an inefficient organization is one which: doesn’t employ strategy deployment principles, treats employees as workhorses, allows team members no input and values their ability to accomplish tasks.

A successful organization, however, knows that front-line employees have the most interaction with the customer, and thus are in the best position to actualize the aim of the system for that customer.

For Genghis Khan, managing an empire that covered 16% of the world’s surface area would not have been possible if he hadn’t been able to trust that his governors and generals were both on board with his aim and if he hadn’t valued their contributions. Trust and value are necessary for successful lean strategy deployment.

Creating an organizational environment in which associates are valued for their work and be respected for their contributions, as well as establishing standard operating procedures helps to develop on-time, complete, and correct (OTCC) performance expectations for each individual associate.

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