In my last post, I began talking about the building blocks of lean culture and how to cultivate lean culture in your workplace. In this post, I’d like to continue on that topic and provide a few more key factors in the creation of such a work environment. If you missed Part 1 of the two part series, you can check it out at Building Blocks of Lean Culture Part 1.
Building Blocks of Lean Culture (continued)
When people hear the word “accountability,” they often cringe because the word instills a fear of blame. However, when we talk about accountability in lean culture, the goal isn’t to assign blame but rather to learn from and continually improve upon our processes on both an individual and organizational level. The key to establishing this type of accountability is providing appropriate support. This means giving constructive feedback, empowering employees to make decisions, and allowing them to take ownership of their work – all while continually challenging them to think of better solutions.
Lean thinking heavily relies on accountability to build trust, enhance productivity, inspire confidence, and promote ownership. Workplaces can cultivate responsibility by initiating regular meetings to review operations, track performance, and make the necessary adjustments.
Rather than leading from the top down, the goal of lean culture is to engage teams in the improvement process to promote personal and organizational success. In lean culture, managers are not the experts or sole authority merely delegating responsibilities. Instead, they serve to facilitate ongoing improvement by creating a learning environment. When the work environment becomes a learning environment where employees are given the freedom to try new things and experiment without fear of being blamed when things go wrong, they take ownership of their work productivity and efficacy and commit themselves to improvement.
Standardize Work for the Top Management Team
The daily behaviors, actions, and tools which encourage, promote, and sustain continuous improvement are the pillars of Leader Standard Work. These behaviors, actions, and tools help management improve performance, reduce variation, model to employees how to make smart changes, and support and develop team members. Leader Standard Work provides a framework for what, when, and how a leader should take action.
In contrast to a traditional top-down leadership approach to management where leaders are seen as the sole purveyors of problem-solving skills and must jump in to save the day every time an issue arises, lean management seeks to coach and empower individuals to solve problems independently.
In command-and-control leadership, managers often seek to place blame on individuals when things go wrong. The focus shifts from people to processes in lean culture and aims to avoid the blame game entirely. This leads to greater trust and opens the lines of communication, creating an environment that is more conducive to positive change.
All organizations are made up of human beings, and at the end of the day, we must remember and acknowledge that we all deserve dignity. Organizations that treat people like cogs in a machine can’t achieve the highest levels of success because they cannot attract and retain the best talent.
Organizations that implement lean culture are most likely to retain the best employees, reduce inventory, enhance the bottom line, improve revenue and sales growth, customer retention, and lower turnover rates.
However, lean culture must never be confused as an overnight process. It requires continuous improvements for effective implementation, which is why Value-Centered Solutions doesn’t claim to offer a quick fix but instead offers a guide to lead businesses on their journey.