Sunday, November 18, 2012

Taking Advantage of Genghis Khan Days

During my college football playing days at Springfield College, we had a very special strength and conditioning coach. So special, in fact, that he is now the Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the Chicago Bears. Before that, he did the same for the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL. His name is Rusty Jones.

What in the world does this have to do with LEAN or continuous improvement? Please remember that my approach to lean is to create a culture where everyone improves their processes a little bit every day. Think of it as a heijunka approach to lean. No big events that happen a handful of times a year. A3, with all of it's support infrastructure, is what helped me approach this goal at Duraflex.

I have been "working out" every other day for over 30 years. Most days I am ambivalent about getting up at 5:30 or 6:00 am and doing it. Some days I have to force myself to go out and do it. (Cold January mornings come to mind). And some days, I am "fired up". Invincible, determined, smiling all the way. Russ Jones used to (and maybe still does) call these days Genghis Khan days, and he preached to us to take advantage of those days by working harder, maybe a little longer, and faster.

The same types of days happen when implementing lean. On one day, everyone is fire fighting, too busy to improve anything. On most days, there is nice but not earth shattering movement toward flow. And every once in a while, your company has a Genghis Khan day. I knew when we had a Genghis Khan day because when I got home that night, I don't actually remember driving my car. Crazy progress toward flow by people. 

But, this is not the TYPICAL day. As the lean leader, you need to understand that when it comes to change management and REAL continuous improvement, take whatever you can get. Prepare yourself for the days when everyone is way too busy to get better. And the days when progress is definitely tortoise-like. Then REJOICE in the Genghis Kan days. Believe it or not, it is he who is credited with the following quotation:

"It's not how many breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away." 


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