Friday, May 25, 2012

Do You have a LEAN People Philosophy?

The 4 building blocks (P4) in becoming a LEArNing organization (as covered in my previous blogs) are:
1. Philosophy-Why are you in business? Why do people do business with you? What are you great at? Why do people want to work at your company? 2. Develop your people and partners-invest time to develop your biggest investment-people! How many hours per week do you invest building leaders? 3. The right process will produce the right result (conversely, the wrong process will produce the wrong result), and 4. Make your problems as visible as possible. Today, I want to spend a little more time on the first P, PHILOSOPHY.

Part of the Philosophy of any company is how "the company" views "employees".  Do people stay? Are they involved every day in the decision making and problem solving? Do you challenge people to become leaders? Are they fairly and competitively compensated for what they do?  

One of the major differences between the  lean tools and the Toyota Production System as a business strategy is the concept of "respect for people". There are several components to this concept. First and foremost is that it is disrespectful for ME to fix YOUR process. That is, ANY decision making that has to do with your process has to involve YOU. It's a safe assumption that people who do a job 240 work days per year for multiple years are probably the experts at that process. Give them the respect that comes with that by involving them with all matters related to that process. Including ALL improvement activity.  It is managements job to help people identify overburden and eliminate it.

Don't sabotage this respect with language. Words like "my people" or we "empower our people" are disrespectful. In the words of my friend Carmen Brickner, "who are you to empower anyone?" (like YOU have the 'power" and have decided to bless someone else with some of it). 

The ultimate demonstration of respect is to challenge every person to THINK everyday. The expectation is that no one can leave their brain in the parking lot. Try it. You will find your load getting lighter by the day. 

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