Does lean training turn your team to problem solvers?
By: Susie Sterling - Director, Supply Chain Solutions
In an introductory lean workshop last week in the Silicon Valley, one of my participants asked me: “You have seen a lot of lean transformations in your career –what is the one thing that turns someone from a lean skeptic to a lean believer and lean problem solver? Can lean training alone do the trick?”
Great question. What is the secret to lean transformation? The most important thing for a lean leader to understand is that there is no magic pill, no instant solution. Implementing lean tools and principles such as kaizen, visual management, SMED, one piece flow, 5S, mistake-proofing/poke yoke etc. will certainly start our organization on the right path. However, it is more than just teaching people about tools – it is about educating people to think lean. A leader can also not expect his/her team to accept the lean philosophy without understanding and believing in it themselves – that’s why lean training online, lean practical workshops and lean leadership trainings are so crucial for a cultural transformation. Therefore, with all my lean thoughts running through my head, my answer to the above thought provoking question was multi-fold:
1. Participate in lean problem solving training. The basic knowledge transfer of lean is the Alpha and Omega of a lean journey. You start with it but you don’t stop after the workshop is over. That is one of the biggest mistakes I’ve been seeing at companies – they’d say: “Susie, we’ve tried that Lean thing, and we had training awhile back, but it got forgotten.” Or “yeah, we used to have a Lean/ CI leader, he/she left the company so now it’s on the back burner, the tools they brought in are “collecting dust” on our server/in our closet.” – sounds familiar? Right, I thought so. When I talked about this point in my presentation, the Silicon Valley Innovators in my class almost hurt their neck nodding. Don’t let this happen in your organization, Lean education, continuous learning and regular PDCA on your team’s lean knowledge and application should be your main focus at all times.
2. Know the difference between education and training. Education is knowledge focused. Training is application focused. In the world of lean and continuous improvement, knowledge is just the beginning of the road. Always make sure that the lean training you conduct with your team requires the team to apply everything they learned in class, it will create a clear return on investment for the company. The best tool for leading and tracking projects is the A3 methodology. – learn about it more at: http://www.leancor.com/index.php?page=Lean_Six_Sigma_Training
3. Just start living lean - start by changing what people do rather than how they think. Dr. Womack taught us about the importance of Gemba walks – going to the workplace, talking to people who do the work, find problems together and solve them in cooperation. This is also the age old practice of “managing by example” and I’m an absolute believer in it. You, as an enthusiastic lean leader will act lean, follow PDCA and the Lean Guiding Principles, by result you’ll achieve great results and that will convince all the skeptics one by one and they’ll join you. This, I can promise as I’ve seen it happen several times in my own experience. Lean is often misunderstood as an elusive journey with no true results; this turns people into skeptics very quickly. If you show real measured business results, it will be your secret to changing behaviors.
4. Listen to your team members – the power of communication. A true lean leader masters the art of listening, uses a good mixture of inquiry (convincing by asking questions) and advocacy (convincing by facts and reasoning) and understands that different personalities approach problem solving and new ideas learned in lean training differently. I once faced with great resistance on my lean journey with a company – I started what I knew would work and called several meetings for people from different departments. The meetings were hard at first, then got better and better as team members got a chance to talk and have their voices heard. One of them came up to me one day and said: “Thank you for listening to my inputs, it happens so rarely. And people wonder why I’m skeptical sometimes.”
And this is why we persevere in lean management – IT REALLY WORKS!
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Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group
LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Google+