Posted by: knightbird | October 15, 2012

The Work Continues

One of the hardest parts about leaving an organization you have led for many years is a fear of reversion back to the norm. Scientific management is tough to maintain without a lean leader. Most leaders come in, look at their first problem, and dive right in. Their perception that the first problem is fixed doesn’t take into account all of the other problems that may crop up because of the first fix. It’s hard to go through the lean steps. Go to the Gemba and see. Do the root cause analysis through the tools available. Make a process map. Confirm it and estimate the time for each step. Write the problem statement. Identify alternative improvement options through a collaborative process. It’s easier to yell at a couple of employees, and then ride them until it’s “fixed.”

Chugachmiut hired one of the Division Directors as their new Executive Director. With long experience in lean, the culture continues. One project that was nearing completion when I left was our “contracting” process. There are many small jobs that need to be done that doesn’t warrant an employment contract. A team of employees analyzed the process and came up with a fabulous solution. A process owner was identified. Standard work was established. Documents were drafted, reviewed by legal counsel and put into a format that inserted the necessary information. An approval policy was documented and is confirmed as the contract is negotiated, offered and signed. Accounting, the contracting party, the process manager and the chain of approval are all informed and involved.

The contract process addresses a variety of issues similar to the employment process. Independent contractor issues are addressed early. Duties and responsibilities are well defined. A contractor’s manual was prepared to inform contractor about their duties and responsibilities, including the submission of invoices and the presentation of documentation. IRS obligations are also addressed, as are workers compensation and liability issues.

One fact of existence for most organizations is the amount of work left undone. Failure to dot the I’s and cross the t’s occurs in most organizations. They are usually OK for a while because most government’s are equally inefficient and don’t catch many errors. But if they do, and they choose to make you an example, watch out. It’s better to use lean thinking to address issues. The work continue at Chugachmiut because the culture is maturing, and they have a leader who believes in it.

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