Check the checklist: What has standards work done for me? - Question from the floorWritten by Dr. Timothy Hill Tuesday, 24 January 2012 13:33
QUESTION: How difficult is it to sustain Lean philosophies in a team?
ANSWER: I received this question awhile ago in preparation for a Yellow Belt certification training session that I was about to do with a major Canadian retailer. It's a good one because it asks about the most important part of Lean - one that nearly all consultants and Lean "experts" overlook.
I tell people that 20 percent of Lean successes come from a mastery of the tools, while 80 percent come from creating the standard work and sustaining them across time. Now, most people never get to creating the standard work or they face challenges in doing so. They also fail to connect peoples' accountabilities to those standards. Without creating new standards and connecting peoples' accountabilities to them, people will fail to comply with them.
This won't be their fault. They will get busy, they will put out fires and their attention will eventually slip away from Lean goals. This is compounded by two things. First, their Lean trainers concentrate on the tools alone, often without connecting them to the gemba. Second, their Lean "leaders" call the work that they do "projects," which implies a start date, a process and an end date. Lean is continuous; it is a process and it has no end date. Moreover, it takes about two years to start a Lean culture.
When it comes to sustaining Lean in a team, you must make sure that:
• You've got support from senior management;
• You have new standard work to replace informal rules of thumb;
• You connect people to their accountabilities;
• You audit their accountabilities; and
• You celebrate team successes.
Dr. Timothy Hill is an Industrial and Organizational Phychologist and Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt with global expertise in Human Resources/Human Capital.