Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Four Rules of Lean Transformation

People are often quite uncomfortable with change, for all sorts of understandable reasons. This can lead them to resist it and oppose it. This is why it's important to understand how people are feeling as change proceeds, so that you can guide them through it and so that – in the end – they can accept it and support it.

Recently, I was reading William Bridges’s book Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change.  He recommends following four simple rules, “show up, be present, tell the truth, and let go of outcomes,” to deal with transitions. As I was thinking about these rules, I realized how useful they are for leading “Lean” transformation.

Rule 1: Show Up
It is startling how often we miss precious opportunities by taking ourselves out of them. All our predictions of success or failure are simply our own imaginings, for we never have a true picture of all the factors in a situation. There is no way to guess how many failures are traceable simply to not giving something a try – to not “showing up” for the event.

Lean Lesson: There is no perfect time to start Lean transformation. Don’t wait. Start Now!

Rule 2: Be Present
Some people show up, but they don’t give it their best shot. They don’t want anyone to say later that they didn’t, but they don’t bring all of their energies and talents to the table. They merely go through the motions, put in their time.

Lean Lesson: Engage all you employees in your Lean transformation. Many hands make light work.

Rule 3: Tell the Truth
Saying what you think you are expected to say has several drawbacks. First, you may get the expectation wrong. Second, the expectation may suddenly change – in fact, it can be guaranteed to change these days. Third, it is difficult to keep clear on what you’ve said in the past, especially when expectations keep changing. Fourth, it destroys your mind and spirit. Telling the truth is often the most powerful action you can take. Many seemingly overwhelming problems have been transformed when someone finally told the truth.

Lean Lesson: Communicate and share information with your employees. They’re adults they can handle the truth.

Rule 4: Let Go of Outcomes
In this day of heightened accountability, it’s tempting not only to do our best but to try to manipulate the system to bring about our desired ends. But we cannot ultimately control outcomes, and when we try to, we either alienate others or drive ourselves crazy. Wisdom through the ages has always counseled a wise relinquishment: Learn to do all that you are able, the let go.

Lean Lesson: Focus on the process and the results will follow.

Change happens in everyone’s life. The problems associated with change are generally not because of the change itself but more likely the transitions involved with change. According to William Bridges, change could most effectively be dealt with by concentrating on where you put your focus.

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