One misconception of lean manufacturing is the belief that it is just another program. Upper management perpetuates this belief by delegating Kaizen (continuous improvement) activities to the lower levels within the organization. This is not a principle of lean manufacturing. The culture of a company on the lean journey is one where everybody participates in Kaizen.
Regardless of your position within the organization, everybody should be actively involved in continuous improvements actions on a regular basis. Better yet, because of your position, you must actively participate in Kaizen to successfully transform the culture of your company. Walking the talk and leading by example are powerful actions that promote a lean culture throughout the organization.
I have participated in continuous improvement events where CEO's of billion dollar corporations drive fork lifts, clean equipment and change layouts in the spirit of Kaizen. The power of this level of participation seen on the shop floor does more to strengthen and promote the culture of lean than years worth of motivating speeches.