Research by the Conference Board and by researchers reporting in the Harvard Business Review (March 2015) report that the execution of strategy is their greatest concern. The Conference Board’s recent Survey of CEOs revealed that chief executives are so concerned about strategy execution that they rated it as both their number one and number two most challenging issue. Agile Strategy Execution is a solution to the problem.
Many organizations are not gaining the potential benefits of teams in the workplace due to misunderstandings about team autonomy and self-control. This is a critical issue in organization design and leadership today. Let’s clarify both the benefits and the determinants of team autonomy.
There are plenty of books that hold up Toyota or other great companies as a model and essentially say “Be like that!” But for many companies this is a bit like holding up a picture of a bare chested Arnold Schwarzenegger or a bikini clad model and saying “There it is. Be like that!” It should only be so easy. Having a model of a great culture or great body is fine, but getting there is something entirely different. Here are nine keys to successfully leading change.
When we think of lean our mind first goes to the workings of the Toyota factory. However, the principles of eliminating waste and achieving interruption free flow may be found at an even more profound level in the design of Apple’s breakthrough products and the intuition of Steve Jobs. Reading Walter Isaacson’s recent and excellent biography of Jobs I am struck by the intuitive sense of lean, of flow, of simplicity, that he demanded from both the aesthetics and the technical workings of every product. You would be hard pressed to find an executive with a better sense of the interaction between the social and the technical.
There are two words that are keys to eliminating invisible waste in organizations. These are adaptation and alignment. The failure of organizations to adapt to the dynamics of the external landscape and the failure to align internal systems and behavior both result in wasted energy. They both cause friction, friction between the organization and the environment and friction between members of the organization. Whether it is in a mechanical system or in a human system, friction is wasted energy. Too many leaders and change agents fail to address this form of waste.
(The following was published yesterday in Industry Weeks Continuous Improvement Newsletter.) It may sound like sacrilege to hear someone say that continuous improvement may not always be the right answer. Of course, it is the core process of lean management. But, there are times when more significant and more rapid change is required – sometimes revolution rather than evolution is called for. When Revolutions are Needed Thomas Jefferson said that “Revolutions in human affairs, like storms in the natural environment, […]
Michel Baudin, a fellow blogger and author, posted a video link of a panel discussion that included Jeffrey Liker (The Toyota Way, Toyota Leadership) in which British consultant John Seddon makes the comment that “This respect for people stuff is horse shit.” Seddon argues that what leads to improvement is the system and not an intervention to respect or deal better with the people. Respect for people is the result, not only of personal patterns of communication, but also the result of the nature of the system.
Getting to Lean – Transformational Change Management is now available on Amazon.
There is continuous improvement, and then there is transformational change. Transformational change involves rethinking the whole-system of the organization, creating alignment to the external environment and among the internal subsystems of the organization.
This is about lean management and organizational change. It is about adaptation to disruptive technology and markets. The ability to adapt your organization’s capabilities to changing technology and markets is, in itself, a core competence required of every organization today. And, continuous improvement will not get you there. Disruptive technologies and markets require transformational change, revolutionary rather than evolutionary, not simple problem solving or continuous improvement.
The lean management process or Toyota Production System is founded on continuous improvement. But that continuous improvement is built on top of a stable platform that is aligned with a relatively stable market. Cars still have four wheels, for the most part still have an internal combustion engine; but, they don’t fly and they don’t travel over the Internet. But, what if technology completely disrupted the business model. And, how do you transform to adapt to disruptions?
Books on lean management and the Toyota Production System are too often presented as if this system has been a virtual heaven of production efficiency and worker satisfaction. In the author’s enthusiasm, questions about stress and work life are rarely raised or they are glossed over. In Japan there have been serious issues raised about the quality of work life at Toyota plants and Toyota has openly addressed this issue itself, along with its union, and conducted its own whole-system […]
The goal of this article is to bring together socio-technical systems (STS) thinking and methodology and lean management thinking. There is a huge advantage in combining the two along with an important third and missing piece of the “whole-system.” For lean or STS implementations to be sustainable it is critical to understand and align the whole system. Organizations, whether public or private, are all organic, living, changing things. Most will die, sooner or later. The cause of failure is rarely […]
The return of jobs by GE to its Louisville Appliance Park is the best evidence yet of a new trend and it is important that every company engaged in manufacturing consider the key elements that make this a sound business decision. It is an example of “macro-lean”, the creation of processes that unite major functions in the organization.
Doing 5S is easy because it requires nothing of executives and very little if any change in the behavior of managers. It does not disrupt their world. And, that is exactly why it does not address the big issues that drive the culture and competitiveness of any organization. Real competitive advantage is derived from internal strategy, building the capabilities of the organization, and that requires managing the Big Seven S’s of organization culture.
Today’s New York Times editorial focuses on the advances made at the Cleveland Clinic through the development of teamwork across functions. Having long promoted teamwork, through both formal structures and changes in behavior, it is nice to see its importance recognized in the press.
Some companies have engaged in what they think are “lean implementations” by reducing lean to component parts and experimenting with one component over there, another over here, and a third somewhere else. That is guaranteed to fail. The very idea of reducing lean to its component parts fails to “get it.” I believe that the first principle of meta-lean is what I called in a previous book, The Unity Principle. Honda took this principle to heart and sought to apply it in their U.S. operations.