I have been always amazed by what is achieved when a production team, with operators and maintenance engineers working closely together, improves their own production line step-by-step. I’ve seen this many times, in my 15 years working as a Lean consultant. The first signs of improvement appear after the team gets training and starts applying the principles of Lean. The team finds the first quick wins, and immediately, this creates enthusiasm and momentum. The real transformation happens, however, when the team begins to truly cooperate. They become an improvement team, committed to improve performance, making optimal use of the strengths of each of the team members. When they really get going and continuous improvement starts, it’s just wonderful to witness.

I’ve been working as a Lean and Lean Six Sigma for a decade and a half now. Over the years, I’ve introduced the concept of improvement teams within a dozen production companies within The Netherlands, and a couple in Germany. In these multi-disciplinary teams, people from different departments work together on the single task of improving a production line, making it run faster and smoother, reducing down-time and break-downs, etc. As a team, they have the flexibility to cope with any production problem that can occur. For me, the people on the shop floor aren’t ‘resources’ that need to be ‘managed’, but creative and knowledgeable individuals, that can do great things, especially when they truly work together. Recently, I implemented these ideas in a financial service back-office in what I and others feel is an innovative way– the Super7 operations principle.

My book on Super7 Operations, with information on what Super7 Operations is, how it works and how you could apply it in your own work environment, is available in bookstores (click link for Amazon.com): Super7 Operations – The Next Step for Lean in Financial Services

Super7 Operations – Book preview

CoverLean has been around in financial services for over 10 years now. From the insurance companies and banking back-offices that I have seen, however, the way Lean is implemented in this context is usually focused on making the operation manageable and controllable, by introducing standard processing times, reports on productivity and availability, and making the performance visual on the shop floor.

What’s missing in my view is the fun factor of Lean: the experiments, the improvements, the supportive management style and the teamwork. Moreover, I wasn’t seeing the sense of invigoration and renewal that comes when employees on the shop floor experience the improvements brought on by a Lean implementation.

And, perhaps even more importantly, the ‘old’ Lean that I encountered in financial services doesn’t put the customer in the centre. Instead, these approaches focused mainly on cost containment and internal Service Level Agreements.

This approach to Lean sidesteps its most essential benefits and its central point. From what I saw, Lean within financial services needed a new go. In response, a new approach was developed — Super7 Operations.

Three central benefits come up again and again, each of which we will look at in detail in my book:

  • Customer-centric and empowered business culture
  • Reduced inventory and customer waiting times
  • More supportive management style


The theory of Super7 Operations is explained from several viewpoints: what it does for your customers, how it changes culture on the shop-floor, and what this way of working means to employees and managers.

Practical guides for implementation of Super7 Operations are given in the detailed case studies from Super7 Operations at ING. You’ll get valuable tips and tricks for implementing Super7 in your own organisation, from the people that have done it before you.