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Lean Confessions: Is Lean bad for employees?

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011 : 2 Comments

Photograph by Kenn Kiser

Many of us try to do our best on our jobs. No one wants to feel like someone else can take their place with a better program or idea. This is the issue that many companies face when initially considering implementing Lean within their organizations. There may be individuals within the company who have truly been working hard to make the operations better. However, the perception is that a company chooses to undergo a Lean initiative because management felt that things could be better. Does this actually mean that the person in charge of operations wasn’t doing their job or doing it poorly?

No, of course it doesn’t.

Everything changes and evolves and that is especially true in manufacturing. There may be a way to do things one day but because of the evolving industry, that same method may be obsolete the next year. In order for companies to continue thriving, they have to evolve too. This is why Lean implementation is so important. Lean is not supposed to be used to uncover inefficiencies and shine a negative light on any worker, whether they are an employee, manager or executive. Lean is actually about continuous improvement and making operations better. It does not negate any efforts previously made by employees. In fact, Lean companies have the unique ability to take previous investments and leverage them to make results go farther, faster. In other words, Lean implementation may actually have the ability to make an employee look better, especially if they were the ones to suggest the implementation.

Has your company avoided Lean implementation for this reason?

Do you think there is any way Lean could make an employee or manager look bad?

Let’s discuss!

2 Responses to Lean Confessions: Is Lean bad for employees?

  1. Mark Graban says:

    This illustrates why Lean must be introduced an embraced in a “no blame, no shame” manner. It’s not anybody’s fault that there is waste in the system – this is especially true in healthcare, where systems and processes have generally just evolved, rather than being designed.

    We have to help reduce defensiveness so people can focus together on customer needs and the good of the company.

  2. Brandy says:

    Thanks for your comments Mark, Lean is about people, as much as process.
    We love reading your blog and tweets – hope you’ll stop by here again!

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