How To Take Time Needed For Lean Strategies When You Have Few Resources And So Little Time
A reader asked:
- How can we take the time needed to identify, plan, and execute Lean strategies when we have so few resources (no one has any time)?
We often hear this question when we start working with clients. Leaders ask it in our early discussions. Then workers involved in improvement work also ask it.
Believe it or not, feeling this way is a sort of prerequisite for success.
First, without pain around your current condition, you and your team might not have the motivation to create an improvement. So, pain and pressure of some kind are a necessary ingredient.
Second, the question comes from a misconception. The misconception is that lean strategies need to be added to your current work load. That is not how things should work.
You shouldn't be “identifying, planning, and then executing” a lean strategy at all. Instead, you should be drilling into your biggest problems in way that solves them. You should be engaging your team to identify what you are dealing with and discover causal relationships so problems can be solved. That is what process excellence is really about. Why would you want to continue struggling with frustrated customers and employees, with the inability to locate the causes of problems, and continual rework and waste?
To be sure, process excellence is not easy, because it is different than the way you currently work. But how easy is it to continue as you have been? How much hope is there that things will get better in the future?
It is unfortunate that people think of process excellence as something to drag people through in addition to their real work. In truth, process excellence should be everyone's real work.
People usually do need help when they start out with process excellence. It will be more work at first, because you have to learn a new method of thinking, and do things you currently do not do. But a good coach can make sure you focus on the right challenges, and that you have the right knowledge to meet those challenges. In fact, you might want the managers and business leaders in your company to coach and manage your employees this way, don't you?
Yes, there is a ton to learn (there are tons of books about this of course). But at the root, shouldn't you already be trying to define the problems you need to solve (in a precise manner)? And if you are doing this effectively, shouldn't the problems get solved? And stay solved?
And, if you believe you might not be as effective at doing this as you would like, what is keeping you from getting the help you need?