We live in a world of standardization. Lean manufacturing or Toyota Production System is necessarily based on standardization, repeatable processes, identical parts, designed for ease of installation and reliability. But, what if every automobile was not the same as every other one and had its own story to tell? What if every car had a completely unique history and no two cars had the same parts? What if there were no replacement parts – no Autozone or NAPA, or dealership parts department? Welcome to Cuba!
The principles and process of Agile Strategy Execution are derived from the proven experience of Toyota, Lean Startup, and Agile software development. Agile Strategy Execution is derived, not only from my experience in lean, but also from Lean Startup and Agile software development. I think it is worth considering the core principles that link these practices.
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.
Coaching is becoming widespread in our organizations with many people claiming to be coaches, but with very different interests and skills. To those implementing lean management it is important to recognize that every manager at Toyota has a coach or mentor. The goals of the coach and the client should be in alignment. There are a number of ways to describe the continuum of relationships between coach and client: from short-term to long-term, from focused on today’s problems to developing strategic systems and culture, from low to high intimacy. For the sake of simplicity I will divide this continuum into three zones: the Blue, Green and Red Zones of Caring.
Implementing lean management, or any other change in the culture of organizations, requires a zoom lens to see the different levels of complexity required. Toyota Kata, lean tools, and other methods operate at some focal lengths and not at others. The well informed manager will have the ability to understand complexity and to use simple methods when appropriate. If you are photographer with only a 300mm lens you will miss a lot of great photos.
The problem for most organizations developing lean management is two fold: first, how to change the culture in a significant way, in a reasonable period of time; and second, how to provide the needed training to a large number of people in a consistent and quality manner. Team Kata is an effort to solve both of those problems.
One aspect of lean that has not been given enough attention, in my opinion, is how lean is an organization wide system of motivation that creates a high performance culture. Too many lean implementations suffer from a focus on problem solving skills, but a failure to attend to the system or culture of motivation. Too many rely on the “they oughtta wanna” assumption which usually results in disappointment.
A highly motivated work force is not an accident. It is not the result of being in one part of the country or another, have having a union or non-union. It is the result of systematic efforts on the part of management to design and improve a system of motivation. The most effective systems optimize both an ennobling purpose, the social bonds of strong teamwork, and the availability of individual incentives. They all contribute unique elements to a holistic system of motivation.
Healthy families in which there is high trust result in high academic performance. This is “family social capital.” Similarly, the team at the first level is the foundation of social capital in the organization. This social capital is a key factor in generating continuous improvement and achieving high job satisfaction and retention of employees.