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Lean Organisation

"Whenever you stop getting better, you stop to become good." 

Building an organization means first knowing "what do we want" and "what are our goals". But before that, it starts with a business idea and this idea should be transformed into a mission and vision. Discount chains especially, need to make clear it to the market, what they stand for; the so-called commercial values. The combination of the mission, vision and values (MVV) makeup the DNA of the company. 

Next to the MVV, the business strategy needs to take into consideration the:

  • macro developments of the country;

  • levels competitive environment;

  • reporting lines labor market;

  • cultural aspects;

  • short- and long-term goals.

This complex of factors demands a clear understanding of which actions and tasks should be done to reach the goals, and which knowledge and experience are needed. This means, before building the organization, the tasks should be grouped, demarcated and weighed on:

  • strategic level;

  • tactical level;

  • execution level.

The grouping of the tasks will lead to a certain understanding of the work to be done. After this process, the functional positions with its responsibilities can be formulated; leading to job description. This strategic HR task is an essential part of the organizational strategy. Positioning the jobs into a clear hierarchic frame should lead to an effective organization with its:

  • responsibilities;

  • levels;

  • reporting lines. 

The main difference between job responsibilities at non-discount chains and discount chains is that the jobs at the latter are much wider and have more tasks and responsibilities than normally can be expected at all levels. Next to that, discount chains often choose as less supporting departments as possible. This combination of broad responsibilities and a hierarchical line structure makes the organization "lean & mean".  This most likely will lead to a less perfect organization but will certainly lead to an efficient and result-oriented system with no space for "diving away".

This lean approach can only be realized when:

  • well-skilled people who understand the MVV of the company thoroughly;

  • strong corporate culture of competitiveness and cooperation;

  • well-developed Training & Development policy;

  • clear business processes;

  • clear decision levels;

  • clear KPIs;

  • robust ICT system;

  • etc.


It all comes down to the discount chain's culture internalization and deep Mission, Vision and Values (MVV) understanding. Managers and employees must let the lean philosophy become a culture in the company and anchor it (DNA). This is a difficult path that many discount managers have already cut their teeth on. It takes a lot of patience and iron will, but it also takes capable managers to realize success in continuous monitoring and improving the discount chain's policies.

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