"Many hands make light work." — John Heywood
A common saying we have all heard about teamwork that means the more people that do a job, the easier the job for each person. This is true in Lean.
Continuous improvement is about small changes on a daily basis to make your job easier. Small step-by-step improvements are more effective over time than occasional kaizen bursts, and have a significantly greater impact on the organization culture - creating an environment of involvement and improvement.
Lean is meant to involve the whole company. It is not intended to be put into action in only one area. It is a management philosophy which should include every part of your organization. This helps promote the concept that everyone in the company is part of the team. True Lean manufacturing needs the involvement of everyone coming into contact with the company’s product and its customer.
Improvement should be ongoing and employees should be a critical part of that process so there is not fear of change but a willingness to embrace it because it’s a part of the everyday process in the organization. As employees begin to demonstrate a willingness to assimilate change into their daily routine, they develop a commitment to the change, a willingness to stick to the plan of action. The change actually becomes integrated into the work environment, and employees begin to feel a sense of satisfaction in accomplishment. They readily see the payoffs associated with the change. They enjoy, and may even take credit for, their participation in the process. Employees can view their efforts to bring about change with personal respect and pride. The change becomes a part of their routine, and any lingering concerns vanish.
In Lean we strive for a culture in which everyone in the company makes small improvements to their work environment everyday. Many organizations start with large activities with titles like Kaizen or improvement events. This is necessary in the beginning to create the conditions for change. You need to teach people how and why to improve. The Kaizened area then serves as a powerful example for the rest of the organization to learn from. But as we strive for "True North" we want to create an environment where continuous improvement occurs regularly as part of the work.