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.
Two years ago I published what I thought would be worthy New Year’s resolutions for managers. Below I am both repeating some of those and adding a few new thoughts. I hope they are worthy of your consideration. You might want to challenge your management team to agree on some collective resolutions for the New Year. It may promote a useful dialogue. First, Promote Unity of Thought and Action in the New Year: We live in a world of competition […]
In my opinion, it is obvious that the current state of our healthcare system is unacceptable and it is equally obvious that the way the new law has been implemented has been unacceptably clumsy.
The question I want to address is what are the lessons one can learn from this mess and if you were the CEO of this organization what would you do differently? My thoughts follow.
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.
We need to have a serious conversation, not simply about the budget or the healthcare law, all of which can be improved, but about the unity of the country and the spirit of party about which we were well warned in the infancy of this nation. Washington was passionate about this one principle of unity and he could see that the greatest threat to our country was not external forces, but internal division. He could see that division would lead to “parties” and those parties would develop a spirit that would be a cancer to the country.
As companies implement lean management the responsibility of leaders is critical to successful change management. All significant change in the culture of the organization requires strong and dynamic leadership and this must come from not only the single leader, but the leadership team as a cohesive model for the organization.
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.
Many leaders worry that their lean implementation efforts are not sustainable and they are too often right! Twenty years ago I worked with the Merck Cherokee Pharmaceuticals plant to design a team based organization. It has sustained over the past twenty years. Of course, it has been modified and evolved. But it has sustained. I know of dozens of cases of significant and positive change that have been sustained. I also know of dozens of cases in which they have not been sustained. The reasons are not complicated.
If one is in pursuit of the role of leadership one would do well to study the lessons of both Nelson Mandela and President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt. Both participated as outsiders seeking a revolution against dictatorial and oppressive rule. Both witnessed the success of the revolutions they advocated and both came to power to face the challenges of internal division and the need to build a new and democratic culture. There the similarities end and in the difference there are significant lessons for leaders of all organizations.
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 […]