Dec 16 2014

In dynamic organisations the leaders role is to coach their people to develop systems that make problems obvious, solve problems quickly & thoroughly (to root cause) & to share out the knowledge gained by solving these problems, normally in the form of new standards. It is the culture of how they work, not just a tick box exercise in what to do.

How quickly people begin to perform & the new way of working is engrained when organisations begin the transition from static to dynamic is always a matter of where the people are when the focus shifts as well as how quickly they can learn the new behaviours & processes for these elements.

A former client of mine was always pressing for more transfer of knowledge & ability, as if it weren’t happening fast enough. While I can completely understand the lack of patience, the desire to develop their people as fast as possible, it presupposed that they were in a good place to start with & that their people were capable of learning fast.

I’m not suggesting they were incapable, far from it, but their understanding of their starting point, like so many organisations was poor. Like many organisations they had been working with Lean for some time, they had people who had a reasonable level of knowledge about Lean, the principles and the practices. But most of it was knowledge, based on reading books, a few courses & a few small projects.

The reality in this, and so many other situations was that the level of knowledge was superficial, surface level. Theoretical understanding is great, and arguably a precursor to a true change in behavior & culture, but what people seem to constantly forget, is that Toyota took decades to develop their system, as did many other organisations that have been successful “copying” it.

The reality is that this is a cultural shift, not just an implementation of some tools & techniques. Those that push for rapid implementation, with a focus on ticking boxes rather than depth of knowledge & understanding are the ones that usually end up dropping the program, because it didn’t deliver the expected results.

Those that focus on quick results, also end up dropping the program as their impatience for results focuses on the outputs rather than the inputs. Outputs are important, don’t get me wrong, but how we get there is just as important, especially if we want to be able to repeat the process over & over again, continuously improving our processes to enable a continuous improvement of results, not just a one time activity,

There are no short cuts, there is no silver bullet, what took the best organisations decades to develop & implement, cannot be implemented elsewhere in weeks or months. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but day by day…



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