KaizenTips for Lean Managers

Notes from the Field: Implementation and Continuity Safety Nets

By Jon Miller Published on July 26th, 2005

Change is hard.
What a cliche. But it has achieved its high rank in the pantheon of “cliche-dom” because its underlying reality is so very common. A fact multiplied many-fold during virtually any serious kaizen event.
Cold hard fact: not everyone either wants to or is equipped to adapt to the changes required when a process makes the shifts typical in moving rapidly from batch and queue mindset to takt-flow-pull mindset and reality.
Sometimes that fact hits even the area supervisor or manager, who may feel that his or her role as last minute savior and keeper of all arcane scheduling voodoo rites will, post-kaizen, (correctly) be obsolete.
It can get tricky for you in the middle of the kaizen event when it becomes increasingly clear that that supervisor or manager you were counting on to take the leadership ball from you and run it now wants to take that ball and do something entirely undesirable with it!
When you are tasked to lead and shape the kaizen event預nd the considerable investment and opportunities riding on it熔ne of the most important things you must try to do is prevent backsliding once change is made.
The fact that there is a distinct term in Japanese, “hadome”, meaning “prevent backsliding”, indicates how common the pressures to revert to old and less successful methods can be.
Even in the best of circumstances and for positive reasons, situations and leaders change and are not available to continue to reinforce shifts to new processes and build on the successful but frequently delicate initial outcomes of a kaizen. This is especially critical in the weeks just following a major change.
This vulnerability emphasizes the need to cross train leadership even during an event itself. Do this by making a habit of giving several people in addition to the cell, unit, or area lead the opportunity to supervise changes to flow, to practice changing demand and capacity parameters, to adjust the workflow, and to gain exposure to helping guide the team as it practices its new “dance steps”.
The outcome of applying this practice of spreading the exposure to basic hands-on control will be the creation of a knowledge pool within the team able to absorb the loss of a leader – for whatever reason – without also losing their hard-won gains, and subsequent forward progress and improvement.

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