Posted by: Knightbird | October 17, 2011

Continuous Learning

I had a wonderful and far ranging conversation with friends over dinner last night. They are aware of Chugachmiut’s lean culture. When the topic of our organizational achievements came up, I had to let them know that despite 7 years of lean improvements, we realize that we have so much more to improve, and that our task is never ending. I tried to explain how a lean culture makes you so much more aware of what needs to be done in order to serve our customers appropriately. We celebrate our successes with lean thinking, but do so with the understanding that any improvements will only open our eyes to additional problems that need solving.

My learning continued last week while I was on vacation. I bought Jeffrey Liker’s new book on the Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA) crisis titled “Toyota Under Fire.”. I commend it to all lean thinkers. Despite 7 years of lean advocacy, while reading the book I realized how little I do know and what I need to continue to learn.

My friend spoke to me about the law of entropy that things simply degrade over time. Liker wrote “The only way to combat the pervasive disease of entropy is culture—building an organization that constantly renews its commitment to excellence and to its core principles, an organization that can instill those principles and the founders’ passion in each new generation of employees and leaders.”

I have been renewing my efforts to let all our employees know about our lean thinking culture and teaching them the importance of Respect for People and Continuous Improvement. I am also reading Dr. Deming’s “Out of the Crisis” to reacquaint myself with his 14 principles. I find that I have to continue to renew my knowledge and understanding in order to evolve along with our culture into a more lasting and enduring culture.

There is so much to know about lean that I sometimes despair of being an inadequate leader. That is why I continue to read, talk about and listen to the experts who have spent so much more time than I can. Continuous learning is a huge part of continuous improvement.

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