Hierarchy Of Lean Business Needs (TM) Communication, Trust, Alignment, Productivity
When first starting Lean companies tend to jump to the productivity piece but Lean is not about the processes but about the culture. Lean culture is the cornerstone to a Lean Business System. The aptitudes of communication, trust, and alignment are the building blocks to reach productivity.
Studies of business cultures indicate that one of the most pervasive problems is communication. It is a simple fact of life that the more human interaction there is, the more opportunity for conflict. This is not surprising since most people never receive training in this area. This leaves companies of all sizes and descriptions two options: One option is to try to make communication work. The second is to simply ignore the issue hoping it will go away. The former generally does not work because most managers do not place enough of an emphasis on communication to truly do what it required to improve. The latter does not work for obvious reasons. Thus, it is a wise leader who is willing to hold the organization up to the mirror to look at all the imperfections,and then do something about it.
The level of trust directly impacts how effectively the entire company operates. It is based upon many factors that each individual contributes. If the trust level is high, there is an ability to address and resolve issues. If it is low, problems escalate, negatively impacting how people interact and address problems. Every individual in the organization is responsible for building trust. Without a doubt it takes courage to have trust in others, and to open oneself up to criticism while maintaining a demeanor that builds trust. Without trust, no organization can achieve its full potential.
When you go to the airport to board a plane, you expect the pilot to know exactly where the flight is headed. Furthermore, you expect that the pilot and everyone else on the plane are planning on going the same place you are. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said of a company‟s work force. All too often members of a team do not seem to have a common destination guiding their actions.
Alignment in a company ensures that everyone understands the direction that it is headed, and how this is going to be accomplished. Additionally, alignment provides for every individual understanding her/his own role in the process. Without alignment, resources are being misspent taking the organization away from the desired result.
There is a fine balance between people and production concerns that a leader must consider. If, for instance, the balance tips in favor of production, the people in the organization suffer and begin to feel unvalued. This causes them to lose interest in the success of the company, and their work suffers. This typically takes on a snowball effect in that the more the “boss” demands production, the more the employees rebel and production suffers.
On the other hand, some managers go the other extreme. They assume an exaggerated paternalism. They cater to staff members to make them happy at the expense of the business. This can lead employees to begin taking advantage of managers. In both of these scenarios, neither management nor the staff is engaged in moving the company forward. A leader finds a balance between people and production requirements. He or she is able to harness the energy, creativity, and desire to be an integral part of the organization in order to bring out the best in the team. The leader includes the team to assist in maximizing the production in a continually improving manner. This will typically preclude either people or production being sacrificed for the benefit of the other.
With any Lean Business Systems be sure to include communication, trust, alignment, and productivity in your changes. By including these four factors into a Lean Business System you increase the chances of success dramatically.
For more information on Lean Business Systems, the hierarchy of Lean Business Systems, or other questions please contact us.