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Why Learning to see Losses matters

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Starting to implement Lean?  In the early stages, Lean change facilitators in your organisation, frequently helped by external consultants, will look at losses and wastes. Lean is about eliminating losses and wastes.  They will analyse processes and activities with the help of Lean tools.  After this initial diagnostic, a number of improvement opportunities and initiatives are proposed. Management approves and the improvement work can get started.  This approach, we frequently call project-based improvement.  It is applied in the early stages of a journey towards Lean.  Multi-disciplinary client teams work together towards a common improvement goal.  The approach requires management team members to work side-by-side with operators or employees. It creates a lot of enthusiasm from employees and results in quick wins..

As above story tells, it are mostly the Lean change facilitators and consultants that find the improvement possibilities in the beginning.  They are trained for it.  In a Lean organisation however, every employee contributes every day to continuous improvement.  So how do you move your organisation from A to B?

Let us start with the problem.  Frequently we observed that operators and employees alike have been hired to conduct the tasks for which they are empowered and trained. They were not hired to question the ways of working of their future managers.  Their job interview was usually not about: “Tell me how we can improve the way we work!”.  They were hired and allowed to DO, much less to THINK how to make things easier, better.

As a consequence and in order to build a Lean culture of daily continuous improvement, two major obstacles need to be tackled

  1. Shift management mind-set from “Visualising problems is an insult to my management capability” to “I expect operators and employees to make problems visual when they occur”
  2. Shift operators and employees mind-set from “What I see is business as usual” to “All time and material losses can be eliminated”

If you want Lean culture to become a reality, above mind-sets need to shift.  

The key learning is that management, operators and employees all need to learn to see losses as problems and opportunities to improve.  Lean is not personal.  Lean culture is about problem solving.  In other words, if you don’t see the problem or you make it personal, you will unlikely solve it.

That is why Learning to see Losses matters.

Next week we’ll talk more about mind-set shifting.

By Christof Frenay, Managing Partner at Improof Solutions

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