1. From Joe, the Supervisor in Plating: "Bill doesn't seem to be satisfied with how things are being run around here. If you talk to him, you'd think we were the most upside down company in America. It never stops with this guy. After digging into it, I find out that there have been dozens of those "lean" improvements made by the platers. They seem to be on time, morale seems much better (people don't quit anymore), and their output has doubled. Think Mr. Perfection is happy?!?! He tells the platers "we're just scraping the surface, we need to keep going, blah, blah blah." I'm having a rough time controlling the platers now, because every time we miss a target or get a complaint, THEY want to make a big deal out of it. Look, if you don't want me here, just say!"
2. From Ann, the Office Manager: "I've been at this for 27 years, and I feel very slighted when Bill Greider decides he's going to tell ME how he thinks I need to talk to MY people. Sure, he sugarcoated it by calling it "humble inquiry" or whatever. Who ever heard of answering people's questions with....open ended questions?! If they KNEW the answer, they wouldn't be asking, right? I'm 100% behind his lean thing, but don't tell me how to talk to my people!"
3. From Karen in Accounting: "Just thought you might want to know, I overheard a conversation in the break area today. I guess that lean guy, Bill what's his face, has been telling our employees that 98% of their job is a total waste of time. How do you think that makes us look? This company has done just fine for the last 50 years (especially since the layoffs in 08), obviously we're doing something right! He keeps talking about the 12 wastes and non-value added work, what the hell?
4. From Harold, the Maintenance Superintendent: "Does this jerk Bill have a quota or something?!? Two things have me beside myself. First, I told Mr. Lean that the new guy, Curtis, is very introverted. He's also already one of my best guys. He's just not a people person. So what do I find out? The jerk recruited Curtis to lead an A4 team to implement 5S in the tool room. Curtis was shaking he was so nervous to talk at the closing! Granted the Jerk helped him through it, and Curtis is fine now (he's already leading another one). The Jerk and I had it out, because he said we need to constantly develop leaders. This guy wants all leaders, no followers! Nobody is off limits with this guy! I heard he even has a couple of the temps leading improvements. The other issue is I found out he planned a lean visit for "benchmarking" to Acme Tubing and asked for volunteers! Come to find out, Curtis signed up behind my back!"
5. From Plant Manager Peter: "This Bill problem has gotten way out of hand. I warned him about constantly pulling people off the floor to work on problems. He insists that people should spend 20 minutes every day working "on" their business vs. "in" their business, and he even said that people spend more than that amount of time talking about the weather or the Final Four. It all sounds great, but that's why I have supervisors! Imagine stopping to solve problems every time they pop up?
So, let's see, we have an employee who:
- Is never satisfied, nothing ever seems good enough
- Won't take no for an answer
- Preaches that people's work is a waste of time
- Questions authority
- Is constantly teaching & developing people
- Has zero respect for silos
That my friends, is the description of a world class lean champion. Don't even try to shoehorn this person into a personal assessment tool (like DISC) or a 360 evaluation, because what you get is a salmon swimming upstream, against the grain. The better the change agent, the stronger the swimmer! The stronger the swimmer, the bigger the target for the bears.
Take the time this week to thank your lean champion. They don't work for a raise or a promotion, but to help develop others! Presidents, CEOs, Senior Leaders, make sure you have your salmon's back!