Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thoughts on Lean..

When I watched the video "Toast" for the first time, I realized that the way my house is set to function is exactly that, "Lean at Home". Toaster next to the fridge, bread by the toaster, washing dishes while waiting on the toaster, etc.. People sometimes think that lean principles are out of this world, but many of us already follow them at home. I enjoy watching HGTV and always appreciate how they organize cluttered spaces. Designers are thinking lean while creating a more organized and eye-pleasing rooms. I'm sure many of you do the same. While there is so much lean surrounding us in many ways, why is it such a challenge to implement it in office or shop floor? Doesn't it seem like common sense? Well, common sense is not as common. If it was, everything would makes sense to everyone the same way. This becomes much more difficult when a group of people from various backgrounds and experience are assigned to come up with improvements. People have different ideas on organizing a workspace, for example. As a lean leader, how do you get people to agree on improvement ideas when you are assigned to get the job done and make a difference in a short period of time? I see lean leaders/facilitators/implementers like designers on HGTV. A designer must listen to the client, learn about the current state and client's desires/requirements in order to develop the future state. This is similar to what lean leaders do. Learn about the current state/process by conversing with process experts. On the day of the lean event, the leader who is already familiar with the current state has most likely formulated some ideas to improve the process. During brainstorming sessions, the leader/facilitator asks a lot of questions to team members and directs everyone to think about lean principles while developing ideas. The goal is to reach the future state by getting the team involved and making sure that the team own those ideas. Surely, a lot of back and forth and tweaking happens after that, but eventually, the leader's job is to reach the goals as well as satisfy the team similar to what a designer would have to do in order to please the client. As a lean leader myself, I strongly believe in initiating valuable discussions among team members during an event and ask questions in a way that the right answers will eventually come out of team members. I prefer them saying it rather than me enforcing it on them. By doing so, people eventually agree on what makes sense, that is, lean thinking...

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