Lean, Six Sigma, Total Quality Management (TQM) and other management tools and techniques have certainly contributed to leaner working.
Yet none of these has explicitly identified the underlying change in thinking and behaviour that actually releases the potential of the people within the organisation.
What we are arguing is this: release the potential of your employees and they, in turn, will release the potential of the organisation.
If the fundamental thinking and behaviour of staff isn’t addressed, any change will be ineffectual. Millions of pounds may be sunk into change endeavours, consuming resources, time and effort, but without a corresponding shift in employees’ thinking and behaviours, it will likely fail and need to be attempted again much sooner than later.
Here’s how it must be done:
Select strategic points across the business and from each of those points, bring staff together with a cross-section of differently-skilled staff – frontline staff, middle managers and first-line managers.
Many such staff will likely have been working in an environment steeped in mass-production principles and will need to undergo a reorientation process in which they are taught a different set of principles on which to design, build and operate an organisation, specifically, the lean principles of a Customer Value Enterprise®.
For most staff involved in the process, it proves a refreshing revelation to learn of different methods of running organisations given that they are mostly familiar with their current one.
As they begin to consider it with more freedom, they will start to appreciate a different view of their organisation, and crucially, to see the organisation from their customer’s perspective.
As employees’ awareness grows, this reorientation will also provide methods and tools to assist them in considering the organisation from the outside-in perspective instead of the inside-out..
This new perspective will yield different data, this time from a customer perspective enlightening them as to how the organisation appears to the customer when engaging in an end-to-end production process.