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Friday, January 11, 2013

Lean Quote: Improvement Comes From People Who Feel Secure

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.

"The economic losses from fear are appalling. To assure better quality and productivity, it is necessary that people feel secure." — W. Edward Deming

Managers have long used fear as a basic motivator. The obvious problem with using fear as a "motivator" is that workers eventually begin to loathe the object of their fear - the manager - and productivity levels begin to deteriorate rather than to increase. In the long run, workers who are afraid of the negative consequences a manager heaps upon them are likely to hate the supervisor and do little, if anything to follow the supervisor's directions. Using fear to start people on the road toward better behavior may work initially, but a wise manager will positively reinforce each improvement.

Fear of unknown, consequent failure and complacency are some of the major reasons for resisting change. There are some people out there who have no fear of the unknown, and who can simply decide logically what they want to do and do it, but for the rest of us, we have to make the unfamiliar feel familiar.

This fear can be diffused through open discussion and successful improvement events. Employees will go along with change more readily if they feel responsible for its implementation. Few people oppose something they helped develop. Employees’ involvement in successful endeavors will motivate others in the facility to join the journey and begin to implement change on their own. Ask employees for their time, ideas, and suggestions to make certain that a positive environment for change is created. Change is best done through reasonable increments and initial successes. Let people be active participants and become responsible for the new way of doing things.

People are normally very open to new solutions which they are familiar with or which they know they can easily understand and learn, but are averse to the opposite. Make the unfamiliar familiar through effective learning. You will find this is not dependent on how hard or easy the solution is to learn but how well the solution and method for learning/embracing is presented. One of the best ways to bring this about is to involve the people in the solution finding process, being receptive to their feedback on the problem, and the prospective solutions they are looking at.

Improved performance cannot occur unless workers feel comfortable that they can speak truthfully and are confident that their suggestions will be taken seriously. Managers and employees must assume that everyone is interested in doing his or her best!

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