Morning thought: I occurs to me that Lean consultants (whether internal or external) often try to push a Lean transformation onto management and most often (98% of the time) fail due to so called “change resistance”.
But it’s no wonder people resist when you try to force something onto them.
The paradox here lies in the fact that Lean experts have a detailed vision in mind of how to do it and what the final objective might be (Yeah, I know Lean is a trip and not a destination, but a one piece flow throughout the company makes for a kind of objective for me).
The problem for me is that Lean people try to force management into a vision that they don’t have in mind. Even when it’s an intellectually convincing vision, since it has not been grown inside management’s heads, they won’t accept it.
Aristotle said that to convince someone you need to use (in that order I think):
- ethos: who you are and what credibility lies in you and your message
- logos: what you’re going to say and whether it’s logicial and intellectually sound or not
- pathos: an appeal to the audience’s emotions.
So, to convince people, you need to be credible, be clear in your explanation… and make people feel they want it. Not just need it. You need something from intellect. You want it from emotion. And what’s better than building a vision for creating emotions?
That’s probably why waste walks with a coach/senseï work so well. Or seeing a Lean place (or building a model line if you can) and, more than ever, continually:
- going to the gemba to see what happen by yourself (second hand reports are intellectual, not emotional unless the reporter is good at storytelling);
- looking at the process (not just wandering around);
- talking to the people… just because emotions will come from interacting with others!
So, there’s no need to try to push the whole Lean management system onto management people. It’s complex and overwhelming. Bounded rationality will have them fly away (if not the double-bind you’re creating by doing so).
I think that proper coaching could help management emotionally connect with their people and see how they could help them fix the broken processes they’re trapped into. People love helping and teaching others. Only you need to provide them with the required skilled to do so (skill in the job and skill in teaching/coaching). TWI understood this long time ago. And it’s only when everybody’s started to take care of their work environment that I think you can teach them to connect processes to create a (one-piece) flow.