I started reading a very interesting book, “Reinventing Organization”.
Probably is the first “organizational philosophy” I see going really beyond Lean.
But still, it somehow upset me when I read, or hear of LEAN as if it was merely a set of tools, something like “give me the factory and I’ll tell you what to do”.
Even with Lean Office, we put in place some Visual Board, simplify templates and documents, maybe we add some visual flow on the floor in areas for customer access where they exist.
However, it has rarely been a review of communication flows, a real push down for decision-making, a true sharing, true listening at all levels.
Delegation and Coaching in the improvement projects
We are so embedded in functional structures where delegation and coaching are “human resources” topics, so in improvement projects sometimes it is “not normal”, or not in scope, to deal with these.
There is the risk to communicate kind of a “project failure” if these needs are declared!
And very often Project Leaders, or even Consultants, do not have the skills to do so, even though in the Green Belt and Black Belt certifications the “soft skill” or Leadership chapter is always present.
Lean means …lean, “not fat”: in organizations, we can translate in non-redundant, at all levels. It’s based on rules, but first on trust.
I have been working for decades in the “traditional” organizations;
I read / studied / practiced the art of organizational improvement, and I have always thought that the traditional basic structure is fine and useful.
Lean is based on People!
Since the LEAN philosophy is based first on people (concept that, as I said, is still being ignored or underestimated), then on rules, I find it difficult to think in terms of TEAL, but nevertheless, I think it might be the next turn.
And I do not see it as something that erases everything LEAN has given/taught us, but something that contains it and goes beyond.
Lean tools have also been applied to more traditional structures such as public administration, education, or even private companies with this type of setting (so-called “amber” organizations).
As efficiency tools, they have been quite successful in classical orange structures, the most popular in the industry, and Lean tools, together with some Lean philosophy, found appreciation in green organizations.
Although only tools, they did not even get into the red organization, heavily based on command and control, and if the analogies are criminal bands, we can leave them out of the analysis!
Lean management is there, available in theory, not much practically applied, sometimes assimilated to “green” organizations (sharing information, paying attention to people’s well-being), and therefore often not considered in the orange, seen just as impossible in amber.
Lean Management in brief, in my view, means:
– Sharing value; efficiency and quality go in the same direction
– We all are both suppliers and customers, and we have to worry about “what is value” for the colleague who comes after us in the value chain: what does he/she need?
Product or information?
Did I check with him/her that I am giving exactly that needed, when and how needed?
– People growth, including coaching, information sharing, delegation, transparency, widespread responsibility, risk/error acceptance, flexibility
– Continuous improvement at all levels: the culture of feedback, problem-solving, innovation, listening.
It is clear that tools are just tools to support this system, and using only those in a traditional organization … some benefit at first, and little else.
A Real Lean Story
I recently spoke with a brilliant Plant Manager, who personally and successfully carried out the introduction of Lean tools in the plant.
It all is working, the only problem is that the change is accepted by about 50% of the staff.
We discussed my “optimism” because I think distribution is more like the classic Gaussian: 10-20% of the population will not follow, will not accept sharing knowledge, respecting new rules, being empowered.
If it is significantly higher … I doubt that something is missed.
The tools work, at the beginning, but they alone do not exploit the power of the people.
In a recent project, we worked with operators on a SMED.
Apart from the brilliant numbers that can be achieved with these exercises (time reduction over 50%), what was exciting was how an operator, during a communication to all his colleagues about the project, kept on saying:
“It’s for us! We all will work better!
We know what we need, and with these projects, we can get it, then we can learn how to maintain standards so the benefits are for everyone! Believe me! “.
This is the power.
Management has to:
- Give space
- Take Some Risk.
And walk the talk, to accept that the solutions that will arise from the people can be different from the ones they had imagined: probably are better.
Then, with the Teal and the complete self-organization at all levels, maybe management will disappear … but this is another story, and we’ll talk about it again!
Written by: Daniela Gamberini