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Friday, January 25, 2013

Lean Quote: Corporations Need to Become People Factories

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"Corporations need to become people factories—places that develop people—not human warehouses that only produce window watchers." — A. William Wiggenhorn (Motorola University)

Most people want to learn and grow their skills at work. Encourage experimentation and taking reasonable risk to develop employee skills. Get to know them personally. Ask what motivates them.

In order to fully realize potential, you’ll have to add knowledge, skills, and experience. Don’t expect your people to do their best if you don’t equip them with the training they need to perform. And don’t expect your potential to spring forth in a final draft; it takes time to hone your skills and build your confidence. This could come from formal schooling, from the school of hard knocks, or from both. Either way, your education is the house your realized potential will live in.

Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company's philosophy Empowerment happens when employees use the company tools to solve problems. Build cross functional teams to improve quality and productivity. Work hard to reinforce the company culture and assure it is followed over the course of years.

Your role as a leader is to develop talent to the highest levels of independent and autonomous thinking and execution. Great leaders don’t subscribe to a “Do-It-For-You” methodology of talent management, rather they lead, mentor, coach and develop team members by getting them to buy-into a “Do-It-Yourself” work ethic. Great leaders view each interaction, question or even conflict as a coaching opportunity. Don’t answer questions or solve problems just because you can, rather teach your employees how to do it for themselves. If you make it a habit of solving problems for people, you simply teach them to come to you for solutions at the first sign of a challenge.

Leaders facilitate the solution of problems by pinpointing responsibility and developing employees. Leaders do not solve other people’s problems. Similar to the fishing adage, which says don’t feed a person a fish; teach them how to fish, don’t solve the problem, teach them how to solve their own problems.

Lean thinkers at Toyota believe that showing respect for people means you allow them to think for themselves and solve their own problem. It is often said that the mission of Toyota is about developing exceptional people who happen to make great cars. The point is that it is more about people and less about the problem. The problem is another opportunity to teach them a skill for lifetime.

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