“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”
Watch the little things; a small leak will sink
a great ship. ~ Benjamin Franklin
For me, the most challenging part of the lean journey is a culture change. Humans do not like change, once people feel comfortable with their current situation; change is evil. With Lean, we move people out of their comfort zones right from the beginning.
The lean thinking requires that we start to think and act different, a change of attitudes and culture is imperative. Like I indicated earlier, people do not like change; therefore the Lean Journey is never easy. Requires a lot of effort, time and repetitive behavior just to convince people Lean is a serious thing.
When we start talking about “Go and See” people are skeptical, but if we really go and see every day, they will start to believe. If every time a problem arise we go and see; and together with our employees, we start to ask why until we get the root cause, they will believe. The Kaizen culture is about continuous improvement, which will happen only if we learn and teach our employees problem-solving tools. We need to empower them to make decisions, create an escalating process so that they know when its time to ask help from a supervisor or manager.
Kaizen is about kept trying every day, is about refusing to accept the status quo and work to improve the current state. PDCA cycle is a living tool, we go, see, plan, do, check and act or adjust. It is an organized way to do trial and error, people like to jump to conclusions. We need to learn how to define the problems, find the root cause and organize the possible solutions and further action. This is an acquired habit, something we learn to do and the best way to learn is with practice. Lead by example, ask why, attack waste relentlessly, don’t miss any training opportunity. It is ok to make mistakes from time to time, the only failure is to stop trying. Kaizen every day, everybody, everywhere; that is the continuous improvement spirit!
Right after we started with the Lean training and early stages of implementation, I was very glad to recognize between some of our employee’s strong signals of lean thinking. One of the hot topics at our plant is waste, but the waste management talks about its ingredients or materials wastage. After our training, the employees start to talk about how to improve certain parts of the operation. They gave very good examples of waste as per the seven categories of waste by Taiichi Ohno that we discussed in our training. One thinks that we stressed a lot during our Introduction to Lean is lean thinking, how important is to change our mind from traditional thinking to lean thinking. This part of the presentation is always an eyes opener. People amaze by this “new” point of view. That curiosity is also full of doubts: Is it for real? Would the bosses really go to leave their offices and come to the work area?
Lean is about respecting the people, in the name of that respect we can’t lie. The words of Toyota Chairman Fujio Cho, “Go see, ask why, show respect” are basic lean principles. If we say that we are going to do something, we have to do it. We have to go to Gemba and see! Once we are there and see, we need to ask with respect why. Questioning the right way is an art, people need to feel comfortable, the focus is on the problem, not the people.
We have to lead by example, lean thinking is not just information is a way of life, is a philosophy. Living that philosophy we put together the stones to build a culture that makes people want to take ownership of their workplace. When people show that they care we as leaders need to show them respect, listening to their ideas and guide them through the PDCA cycle. We can not let them down, after all, lean is about respecting the people”