If “Lean” and a continuous improvement culture is to be developed and sustained, Leaders must take the “Lead”. Most companies have been pursuing a lean journey for several years, some getting success, others getting little or no sustainable success. Often as soon as there is a leadership change the tools and direction changes. This leads to the famous statement in many companies, flavor of the month lean. The team learns, just wait long enough and they will change. I’m sure you have not heard this in your company however, I have in many I have worked with. Most damaging is the loss of faith the team develops in their leader’s ability to use them effectively to assist the company in success.
I am sure most of you have read many books on the topics of “Leadership, Team Engagement, and Lean”. The problem I have with most of literature on these topics is the treatment of the topic as individual processes toward success. What is needed, a leadership guiding coalition putting the learning together in your company’s process and culture change. I would suggest a couple of books, as well as “The Leadership Road Map”. One is (“Leading Change” Kotter, John, Harvard Business Review 1996) and the second is (“Today and Tomorrow, Ford, Henry, Heinemenn 1926). “Leading Change is a great process to put together your guiding coalition and the process the leadership team should follow in developing your vision and system. The second, “Today and Tomorrow” was presented to me by Mr. Fujio Cho while I worked at Toyota. His statement I will never forget is “Russ-san, if you read this book you will find where a majority of our ideas and thoughts came from”. After working for three years in the Toyota System, setting at home reading this book with a thought of TPS I found the information staggering as to Mr. Ford’s thought about waste, people in his company and through put. “Today and Tomorrow” has been placed back in print by Productivity Inc. Be sure you get the copy “Today and Tomorrow” as there are other books with Ford’s name attached.
Good Luck On Your Lean journey