LEAN has been around long enough to have been used selfishly.
Just mentioning it will cause an eye roll in a lot of people. Sadly, I have experienced it myself as well as “total commitment” to LEAN that ended within 4-5 months of when it was launched. While my team did some amazing things with LEAN (like tripling production in 6 weeks at record high yield), most of the company did not see the same benefit. Frankly one department ramped up and threw away more parts!
I know I sound like a political strategist playing both sides of the argument. Before you skip this blog for another one, hear me out.
There is a hidden gem buried deep in the LEAN jargon.
Success is political and it creates rivals. Who gets the spotlight, for how long and for what reason gets political. Those who made significant contributions or have very specialized (and hard to replace) knowledge can trap less experienced leaders. Those who perceive themselves to be “golden children” are DEFINITELY political. If you are leading a LEAN transformation, which departments play along to give help will be political without a pair of big feet stomping the guilty party into submission.
While plenty of managers and organizations have tried LEAN with varying degrees of success, too many have missed one thing. LEAN is more than moving people rather than parts.
LEAN CAN transform people’s hearts and minds.
It certainly did for my team. One of my harshest critical became one of my strongest allies. Thanks to her support, most of the rest of the team either got more involved or jumped in with both feet for the first time.
LEAN can transform a team from playing the never-ending game of whose fault is it anyway to lets do this together. It can strongly encourage people with tons of specialized knowledge to train other employees in order to lead their own Kiazen event as well as show the best results.
LEAN can force people out of their comfort zones and into learning new skills as well as helping others succeed. All of this is possible for those who seek to truly transform their culture and their team’s mindset.
LEAN allows the status quo to be systematically challenged and replaced. Just be careful of someone reverting back when you aren’t looking!
With the right goals, people and leaders taking part, there is no reason why LEAN can’t be a wonderful experience where your team unites and crushes your goals.
Image source: Dan Hadfield via Unsplash