Monday, July 30, 2012

Lean is all About Ups and Downs

Having led several "lean journeys", I know from experience that the road can be a bit rocky. In fact, one of the reasons some companies quit lean is because they expect the road to be smooth for some reason. In the beginning, expect 7 hard days for every 1 good day. As you progress, you will eventually alternate hard and good days. And finally, your persistence will pay off, and you will experience a rare hard day.

There are definitely EASIER ways to run a business. But, if you want extraordinary results, you need to be committed to travel the road less traveled. Change management itself is a can of worms. Patience is key. As the journey begins, one third of your people will buy in right away. One third will never buy in at all. Your job is to CONVINCE the middle third. There is nothing you can say to convince this third. You need to show them that working toward flow eliminates overburden from their work life. If you stay patient and work at it, you will now have 2/3 of the people convinced. The third who will never come will try your patience. Many lean experts will tell you to let these people go. The risk to doing that is you may lose some of the people you just won over! LEAN is 95% people 5% tools. 

After you get people on board, then things get extremely fun. Especially if continuous improvement IS your culture. If it is a special event or a department, continuous improvement will always seem like an intrusion to people. Strive to motivate your team to learn to see & eliminate waste in their own processes. Again, you need to be patient. When my company got to this point, it was voted by the employees as "One of the Best Companies to Work in Connecticut" (four times). When the journey started, those same people would not have voted us best company to work on Neptune.

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