Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lean Implementation: How do we change the culture?

How do we balance culture change with tool implementation?
Change the culture first? When to introduce Lean tools? Study psychology?

How to Get Management on Board?
Train Management first? Create / Hire top team? How do we keep it from collapsing?

How Do We Make Measurement and Rewards Support New Desired Behaviors?
On the floor? In the office? On the balance sheet?

How Should We Engage & Stimulate Employees? Possible Tools:
Quick & Easy Kaizen, Employees as teachers (e.g. "Training Within Industry"), Reward systems, Employee development & Training

What Would Deming Do?
What are the systems we should be looking at? How do they interact as a whole?

This group intends to create a Lean Implementation Model and/or a Lean Culture Assessment tool. The work may be documented and disseminated through future articles, books, presentations, meetings, and webinars.

Lean is more than a collection of tools. Its heart is people learning and improving together.
The human side of lean is often glossed over, resulting in painful implementations and the lack of sustainability.

Thanks for starting this blog on the Human Side of Lean. Our extended group has enjoyed many enlightening conference calls on Tuesday evenings. This may provide a useful way to expand and share the learning. The Human Side of Lean web page is accessible through
Karen, this may be the best way to go. Last week someone mentioned a book about blogs. I'd like to get a copy. Would the person that mentioned it, let us know.

For all of you, I can not participate tomorrow night because I have an Elder's meeting the second Tuesday of every month.

However, I distributed a rebuttle to Norm Bodek's comments on Toyota's legecy costs.

To add to that, Fuji and Toyota have a shared venture that could add another 1000 jobs to the assembly plant in Lafayette, IN. It will be good for Indiana,s economy and the Governor spoke for it's success in a recent visit to Toyota while in Japan.

Toyota needs the assembly space because the Camery is selling so well.

Speaking of the Lafayette assembly plant (used to assemble Pastports for Honda and still, today, assemble Subaru Outbacks, Foresters and Legacys at abiut half the plant's capacity from it's opening in 1992.

When the Japanize (this needs a spell check) CEO first arrived on these shores, he became an instant banquette speaker. When asked about Dr. Deming, he said he's heard of him but doesn't subscribe to his philosophy.

That all said, Toyota is unique in Japan. The rest of Japan's industry is more typical of those in the US with the same problems and solutions.

Jim McNeely
I would like to respond to the post about changing the culture. After years of trying, I no longer think that is the right approach. Rather, I suggest that one should spend their time and effor on making change within an organization in ways that are consistent with the existing culture. In turn, the culture will be changed.

Ok, that is the short post, no let me elaborate. A simplistic definition of culture is "how things work around here". If you accept that, admittedly simplistic, then by chaning the way things work around here, you will change the culture.

It takes years, between 5-8 to effectively change an organizations culture. Nobody has the time to wait for that to happen. That is why I propose that the best approach is to make change in ways consistent with an an organizations culture. By doing so, the organization will more likely accept and adapt to the change initiative. In addition to getting your change adopted, you will, via the "back door" have changed the culture. Perhaps not to the extent you desire, but you at least will be on your way.

Now then, if you accept anything I am saying, then an important tool to possess is a way to identify the culture you work in so that you can implement your change inititatives most effectively. So, the real effort is not in making change, but in measuring and understanding culture. There in lies the challenge for today's leaders.
One key reason is that when we Benchmark we pick up the obvious such as the tools and fail to see the underlying culture that allows it to happen.

“During a recent visit to Toyota in October of 2005 - experienced leaders within Toyota kept telling me that these tools and techniques were not the key to TPS. Rather the power behind TPS is a company’s management commitment to continuously invest in its people and promote a culture of continuous improvement.”
(The Toyota Way; J Liker)

While it is usual within the implementation of corporate wide Six Sigma and Lean to program to spend time with senior management helping them to understand what is required from them, the majority of the time is spent teaching team leaders and team members the tools. A common complaint from many team leaders is the difficulty of getting support during the project despite having a Champion and their apparent commitment. Too many senior managers see that their commitment and involvement is demonstrated by the fact that they have agreed to and paid for the training. Now, they are free to turn their attention back to what they see as the company’s important issues.

This lack of consistency reminds us of Deming’s first point:
“Constancy of Purpose”.

Much of the current training misses the point that in order to have sustainable improvement then the basic way of thinking has to change at the top.
This is a great idea. I haven't been able to participate lately (hopefully that will change soon) and this can be a great way to stay engaged when unable to call in on Tuesday evenings.

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