Posted by: Knightbird | September 15, 2013

The Picture is Very Clear

As I prepare to start my new job, I have a very clear vision of where I think we will be in 3 years. Why, because I have been there before. Only before, it took me five years to get there. Experience has told me that if I focus on a few things, I can accelerate achievement of this vision.

Resistance must be met head on. In my first lean conversion, I didn’t recognize resistance as fast as I should have and take action. Fortunately, some of the resisters chose to leave. The ones I had to help leave cost me a lot of time. This time I have heard most of the excuses that can be made for not implementing Lean. Many of you have heard these before. We are not a car company. It won’t work here because we are different. We have always done things this way. My co-workers won’t buy into it. I am not going to practice cookie cutter medicine. Innovators are very rare and not well understood. I know that I need to find the “Early Adopters.” According to one source, 13.5% of the population is early adopters. This means I have to find about 90 people and convince them of the benefits of Lean. They will convince another 50-60% of the remaining workforce. The early adopters need to be:

Trained and motivated to use the tools of lean. Teaching and coaching are critical skills for a lean leader. The Early Adopters must see success through Kaizen. With 6 to 10 people engaged in Kaizen on average, it will take 10-15 Kaizen in total to give each a total of 90 Early Adopters experience with success. They will talk about their success and engage the 50-60% they talk to.

The workplace needs to eliminate blame and shame and become a Just Workplace. We need to build pride of workmanship into the workplace and eliminate the blaming and shaming culture. Dr. Deming found that poor processes cause 94% of defects in the workplace. 6% are caused by people’s behaviors. A workplace where defects are acknowledged and celebrated is required. This means that mistakes cannot be hidden, but instead brought out into the open and dealt with. A second level of behavior, Assumption of Risk, cannot be tolerated after standard work is in place. Employees who assume a bad risk, such as failure to wash hands between Patient Encounters, must be counseled and trained to avoid the risk. And finally, those who are reckless must be convinced not to be reckless, or dismissed from the workplace.

The Workplace needs to become Visual. Quite frankly, Employees are Competitive by nature, and when their accomplishments are highlighted, they want their accomplishments to be the absolute best possible. If their commitments are displayed, along with an Andon system, they will do everything possible to assure that their work stays in the green.

Within a short period of time, I should be able to tell which managers are not encouraging the spread of Lean Behaviors. As I discovered at Chugachmiut, I have to help non-productive managers to Get Off The Bus. My tardiness in doing so at Chugachmiut cost me a couple of years of effort at Chugachmiut. I didn’t remove the obstacles to progress. I cannot afford to pull dead weight along, and that is what a non-productive manager is-dead weight that pulls along employee dead weight.

So there are 5 tasks I must concentrate on in order to reach my vision in 3 years. Am I stretching far enough on this goal? Maybe. I will need a single-minded focus to achieve it. But, I do have a clear vision and an experienced understanding of what it takes to realize my vision. It is worth it for the huge gains in productive results for our customers. In another 9 days, I need to figure out a way to explain this to 11 managers and start them on their first Lean Journey. Along the way, I will need to learn  new skills myself. Off I go.


  1. I think it’s a good question and a good Lean practice to ask “why are people ‘resisting’ something that’s good?”

    Sometimes, they don’t understand enough and more discussion about Lean is needed.

    Sometimes, they don’t understand the need to change and more discussion about the challenges and reality of an organization is needed.

    I try not to jump too quickly to label people as “resistors.” More often than not, they have legitimate questions and concerns.

  2. But you’re spot on for your points… there are certainly “early adopters” who will gravitate toward Lean and improvement (and a new way of managing) more quickly than others. It’s important to recognize who they are.

    You’re right that it needs to be a just workplace, recognizing that people want to do quality work.

    I know you will do great things in your new organization. I’m looking forward to following your progress!

  3. Yes, you are right on all points! We’ve used this tool for such a preaparation of lean. There is no excuse for the lean higway not to reach its destination.
    Sometimes, culture is a longer route! And you are good to point this out, this tool can be used to know those who are “early adopters” – Strengths Finder by Tom Rath
    Mark Graban has put out good questions to consider as well. Branding was never our way but for the “good seeds” to be chosen and “planted” in the proper “field” this is a useful “filter”.
    Plow away Knightbird! Awaiting anxiously to read from your lean progress/success updates!

  4. Howdy leaninalaska

    I must say that you share the great information and your this blog is look nice on my Ipad.

    By reading your this blog i actually know what is the reason of business development and i appreciate your work. Please do your posting is same manner.

    Great job!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: