As we discussed in the 1st Edition of our newsletter, the four components of a successful Lean implementation, which includes Lean Culture, are shown in the following figure:
As shown in the figure, the four steps required to develop this Lean Culture in support of a World Class Enterprise are:
The steps must be in this order.
Unfortunately, many top Leadership Teams try to jump to empowerment and teamwork by immediately doing Kaizen Events at the start of their Lean initiative before establishing their Leadership and Communication initiatives.
Remember, every organization has hundreds of problems that need to be solved, and not all problems can be fixed at once. Communication from the Leadership Team makes sure everyone knows which improvements to make first. The goal of communication in an environment where empowerment and teamwork are in development is to make sure everyone knows what's going on so they all pull in the same direction.
Once the team members know what part of the play they must accomplish (from the organization's team playbook/Policy Deployment activities) for the team to be successful, empowerment allows them to use 100 percent of their creativity, skills, and knowledge in doing their job without fear of retribution or second guessing by management.
Empowerment is not something we do to another person. The best we can do, as leaders, is to provide an environment where empowerment can occur. Leaders cannot just announce or proclaim that people are "now empowered." They must be proactive in establishing an environment conducive to an empowered workforce. Here are cultural elements of an empowering environment:
- Associates are recognized as the organization's most valuable resource
- Teamwork is utilized throughout the organization
- Decision making is delegated
- Openness, initiative, and risk taking are promoted
- Accountability, credit, responsibility, and ownership are shared (ownership means psychological ownership, not stock certificate ownership)
It is important to understand that associate empowerment is an evolutionary process, not a revolutionary one.