Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Rudolph Factor and the Eighth Waste

In the Lean community the eighth and often hidden waste is unutilized talent or resources. I especially like to highlight this since human capital is the vital engine needed to support a business. It is this talent where innovation and continuous improvement comes from. The challenge for all business management is learning how to tap into these resources effectively.

Cyndi Laurin and Craig Morningstar have co-authored a book called “The Rudolph Factor: Finding the Bright Lights that Drive Innovation in Your Business” where they talk about how to empower your innovators.

"The recession has underscored it in bold double lines, and added a string of exclamation marks for good measure. Bright, empowered, innovative people – the people we're calling 'Rudolphs' – have always been important. Now they're imperative."

"An innovative culture is the antithesis of the 'we pay you to work, not think' mentality that defines many companies and causes employees to mentally check out," adds Morningstar. "Unless all employees are fully engaged and empowered to solve problems, you'll never be able to think your way out of a financial morass."

So here's the real issue: How do you infuse this magic ingredient into your culture? The Rudolph Factor answers that question. Along the way it tells the story of The Boeing Company, one of America's oldest and best aircraft manufacturers, zeroing in on its C-17 Progam's spectacular turnaround at the edge of collapse.

The authors use the holiday character Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer as an analogy to delve inside a corporate culture that reinvented itself in record-breaking time. In the process, they share lessons Boeing learned about innovation – lessons that can be applied and replicated in any business.

Laurin and Morningstar say Rudolphs account for 10 percent of an organization’s people. These are people who can identify the root cause of problems and determine countermeasures quicker than others. These are people who have more answers than questions. They tend to see things that others can’t.

The authors recommend a system to identify, foster, manage, and leverage today’s uniquely creative and involuntary thinkers in business continues to be the missing link in the quest for sustainable, global competitive advantage. Five ways to empower the Rudolphs in your company:

1. Lead in ways that don't force people to check their red noses at the door.

2. Embrace the AVTAR approach to creating a Rudolph culture.

--- Awareness: Generate awareness of a proposed change.

--- Value: Share information that inspires employees to find value in a proposed change.

--- Thinking: This "shift in thinking" requires managers to let go of their own agendas

--- Actions: New actions and behaviors begin to appear based upon new ways of thinking.

--- Results: Results flow organically.

3. Learn to recognize Rudolphs. (16 Ways to Recognize Rudolphs)

4. Identify (and meet) your Rudolphs' unmet needs.

5. Put systems in place to encourage innovative thinking.

Creative thinking, breaking down barriers, identifying talent/resources, empowerment, encouragement, reward, and recognition is what the “Respect for People” pillar and the eighth waste is truly about. This is something you can’t ignore if you want to be successful especially with this recent downturn in the economy. It often does not require using or spending any additional money or resources. So what are you doing to find your Rudolphs and making them lead your sleigh of innovation and continuous improvement?

1 comment:

  1. I just finished reading this book and it was great! I now better understand who I am and why I am the way I am. The best part, I and my manager now know how to make the best use of my Rudolphness! Thank you to the authors for helping me see my Rudolphness. This book should be required reading for every high school student.

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