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Inspiring a Bias for Action

By Steve Kane Updated on April 14th, 2016

jamie-2_ppJamie Parker practices Lean and is passionate about learning and sharing Lean leadership. She has 15 years’ experience in operations management / leadership across retail, service, and manufacturing environments. Jamie serves as an internal coach to her organization’s operations managers across the country while supervising P&L and operations management responsibilities for six commercial print plants. Jamie expresses passion for helping leaders break the habits of traditional management approaches to create environments primed for team member fulfillment.


By Jamie Parker

In preparation for a practitioner presentation at the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) International Conference, I asked some of our managers to record video “testimonials” from team members about how our Lean journey has impacted them. I gave no guidance or script and didn’t know what I would get back.

One of the front line team members talked about how she has been empowered to make improvements to save time and money in her plant. She also shared that she cares for her sick and aging dad. She went on to share how she noticed that she, her family members, and the caregivers were putting things in different places and having difficulty locating the items they needed. So she took the 5S method and applied it to the room in which they care for her dad to make things easier on all of them.

Of course it’s great to hear such a heartfelt story of how a team member applied a Lean tool to her life outside of work. But it helped me to learn a much more valuable lesson.

The real investment in this team member wasn’t just on teaching her the tactical application of 5S. The real investment was in giving her an opportunity to improve her work. We encouraged her to try new things, even if they fail, and we celebrated failures as much as the successes. We encouraged her to make changes to the work processes she does every day to eliminate unnecessary steps and save a little time. We taught her that mere seconds matter. We encouraged her to step outside of the traditional definitions of her work responsibilities to create new processes or systems.

This is the real investment in this team member. Because in doing so, we helped her develop an ability to see a problem in the status quo. We helped develop her confidence that she could change things and have a positive impact. We helped inspire a bias for action.

A bias for action and improvement. This is the real value in our people investment and people development within the Lean culture.

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