Brick Wall No. 1 – Fear of Associate/ Employee Empowerment
The first 80 percent of the journey to become a world-class organization is through all of the employees in the organization. This means creating an environment where empowerment can develop (this is an evolutionary process, not revolutionary). An empowered environment generally contains these elements:
n Employees are recognized as the most valuable resource
n Team work is utilized throughout the organization
n Decision making is delegated to the lowest level possible
n Openness, initiative and risk taking are promoted
n Accountability, credit, responsibility and ownership are shared (ownership here means psychological ownership)
What this means to supervisors and managers is that many of their responsibilities prior to Lean – including making job/shift assignments, tracking factory or office output, setting schedules/performance requirements, performing associate evaluations, meeting with customers, training associates and hiring/terminating associates – over a period of time are all (except terminations) given to the teams.
To prevent the creation of a brick wall, supervisors/managers need to know:
n How will their jobs be affected?
n Will they have a job after empowerment?
n What will their new responsibilities look like?
n What does their new career path look like?
Brick Wall No. 2 – Failure to Develop a Lean Culture
A successful and sustainable lean implementation has four components: Lean Planning, Lean Concepts, Lean Tools and Lean Culture.
Lean Culture is the component that builds a Lean foundation of thoughts, expectations and behaviors that makes the Lean Implementation happen. This is the component that musters the organization’s most important resource, its people, to create a “war on waste.”
The only major competitive weapon an organization has is its people. Most organizations do not have a lot of patents or technology that can protect them from their competitors or create barriers to entry into their markets. Generally speaking, it is an organization’s people that make the difference. Since most organizations have spent little time creating a “positive, people-based” culture, the Lean Culture component (the foundation of Lean) must be developed.
The start of this culture development (or culture modification if a culture already exists) begins with “behavioral expectations.” Behavioral expectations or codes of conduct are short statements, usually in the form of a laminated pocket card, that are “a set of rules or standards” that members of the organization use to guide their behavior and actions.
It should be noted that the behavioral expectations will only produce culture change if they are modeled by top management. Since the culture change process can take years, top management must be committed to the guidelines as a new way of doing business. An excellent example of behavioral guidelines (code of conduct) is shown below:
Brick Wall No. 3 – Failure to Align Lean Culture and Behavioral Expectations to People Measures
To prevent the creation of resistance at the supervisory and middle-manager levels as a result of less-than-clear communication, our vision, behavioral expectations and culture, and our people measures must all be on the same page.
Linking and alignment areas include:
n Performance evaluations
n Reward systems
n Bonus systems
n New associate orientation
In general, clear and complete communication of the vision and strategy involved in the lean implementation will prevent brick wall building.
For more information on Larry, visit his blog.