KaizenTips for Lean Managers

Ownership Generates Success

By Jon Miller Published on November 12th, 2004

Bear McLaughlin, Operations Consultant
October, 2004
During my journeys of training Office and Manufacturing Lean tools and techniques, I致e come across the same key in any business environment, OWNERSHIP, no ownership, means no success.
How do you generate ownership and what does that even mean? It is much more than just having a champion or the leaders telling you they believe in Lean, Six Sigma, or the Toyota Production System (TPS). True ownership is instilled at every level of employee, which then transforms itself into continuous process improvement, the Kaizen culture.
The dictionary definition of ownership (1.The state of being an owner; the right to own; exclusive right of possession; legal or just claim or title; proprietorship.) changes in the reality of the workplace. We have been trained that ownership is only within the Chain of Command (our managers and leaders), but this isn’t true. Every successful kaizen team is proof of this.
Creating ownership may seem like an almost overwhelming and complex task, in reality it just takes a few simple steps to promote. Involvement! Yes, involvement, when you step back and take the role of coach, mentor, or trainer and let the real experts (participants) apply their knowledge, you have started on the path to ownership and cultural change. When you ask a Kaizen event participant to write an idea on a post-it, easel board, or to talk about their process, 7 Wastes in the area, frustrations, and ideas, the path to ownership is being forged. When we talk or write about our areas and processes it becomes personal, we have control or knowledge, and these things are ownership.
Watch what happens in an environment where you are the only one talking versus where you are sharing with the Lean participants. Watch again what happens when you do your Gemba Walk (walking the factory floor or office looking for waste) and point out all the wastes, or, you let the experts once again find the 7 Wastes, watch once again what happens when you do the VSM, CS, and FS maps (Value Stream Map, Current Stream, and Future State) or you stand back again and guide as the people do the maps, ask questions, and look to their future. When people participate, and their energy, ideas, inspiration, and beliefs are put into practice it gives them a powerful feeling that this was their idea to change, to kaizen, or create a working plan. If you, as the Lean Champion or kaizen facilitator do it all, it will become a flavor of the month and is already heading out the door to failure.
Involvement creates ownership, and that leads to success in a Lean enterprise transformation.
1. Source: Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, ゥ 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc

  1. Karen Ulvestad

    November 16, 2006 - 9:11 pm

    Bear – I couldn’t agree with you more. I think it is true that large corporations forget that their employees make the company, not the stock holders. Karen Ulvestad

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