We found a very good article on article that goes beyond the usual talk of Lean, and moves into the subject of Lean behaviors. In doing so, the author of the article found here shifts the lean emphasis from purely Lean and Toyota Production System concepts over into the realm of continuous improvement and respect for people. In it, they refer to comments made by Steven Spear, co-author of Decoding the DNA of the Toyota Production System and author of Chasing the Rabbit.
Spear offers insights into the more personal side of lean by noting 4 capabilities of lean companies. We’re posting these four below as taken directly from the captioned article:
- Design processes in a way that participants in the process see opportunities for learning. Make anomalies, incidents and problems jump out in the process of performing the work.
- Swarm the anomalies, incidents and problems. Bring people quickly together at the site of the problem, with the people who were present to the problem, and immediately when the problem occurs. The intent is to study the incident (problem) to get to the root cause. It’s all about learning.
- Share what you learn with all relevant parties in your company. Do it immediately. Do it extensively.
- Lead the company in a way that others develop the above three capabilities. In other words, create people who are intent on learning every day from what is occurring while doing the everyday work of the company.
If it all sounds deceptively simple, that’s probably because, well… it isn’t so simple in practice. The article diverts a bit at this point into a pitch for the author’s company’s own project management tool, but in quoting from Spear they really do highlight the opportunity inherent in lean for certain ‘teachable moments.’ It touts rightly the importance of using management to teach and lead, not necessarily directing the work or solving the problem. It’s about building competence so that you eventually build confidence in your people.
And that’s probably why it isn’t so simple. We’re talking here about cultural change in the company and behavioral changes in individuals – and therein lies the very essence of teaching.
And a true lean opportunity.