Last month I was at an AME networking session in our Connecticut region. These sessions provide an opportunity for our members to get together for a couple of hours in the morning at a host company discuss a specific Lean topic. The topics change at every session and are decided ahead of time. Typically the participants represent a mix of experts and beginners on the topic because everyone is on a different journey and have been travelling the road a different amount of time. This is truly the value behind these networking sessions.
Our recent topic was centered around Lean Leadership. I know, this is a broad topic. The discussion focused on how to get executives in your company to want to support and then adopt Lean Thinking. We would all like to work at a company where the top people in the organization don’t just do Lean but live Lean but many of us work at a place where they don’t even necessarily do Lean. Since every company culture is different the way to get executive buy-in will be different. Here is a list of ideas from our discussion to help you convince your management to start thinking Lean:
• Bring Executives to customers who are implementing Lean to benchmark and understand how to better service these customer.
• Define core guiding principles from which common ground and a common vision set the basis for improvement.
• Understand what your leaders are supposed to do not what they are doing. The improvement you make must “replace” not be “additive”.
• How to get leaders “Doing” the right things – Focus on capabilities
o Have them concentration on what they can do, not what
they can’t do.
How is your process working?
Where is your process broken?
What doesn’t work well?
What can you do about it?
• Survey the workforce- solve their problems.
o What do you like? (in Company, Department, Daily Job)
o What do you wish you could change? (in Company,
Department, Daily Job)
• All the manager should understand they are leaders.
o Example of engineers not thinking they are leaders.
o Need to lead up and down the organization.
• Understand where you are in the organization.
o You can’t change it all by yourself- teamwork.
o Everyone’s input is valuable – listen and let them be
• Get quick, easy wins (Someone gave example of the companies first Kanban was in the break room for sugar).
If you want to learn more about educating Executives in Lean you should read Bob Emiliani’s book Moving Forward Faster. I recommended this book in a review a few months ago if you want to understand what REAL Lean is and how to support it or lead it in your organization.
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