Traditionally, tech experts figuratively sat behind an organisation’s IT department walls. When they delivered technology to a designated specification, they considered their job done.
Lean changed that entirely. With Lean, technical teams see how the IT they are supplying is actually performing. Further, they obtain a much greater insight into how the company’s technologies may be under performing as well as ideas about new features which could be added to improve it.
By involving not just service delivery managers, but the whole delivery chain, the entire organisation benefits from a heightened awareness of what its customers really want and need. In this new scenario, there is also a much greater level of customer intimacy than would be evident in a traditional technology business.
For IT businesses, adapting to change means locking onto the customer’s world in order to understand, in fine detail, the impact of its products and services.
Companies must start to ask: what are we learning about the customer’s world? And once we have this knowledge, are we sharing it end to end – within our technology business, across all different technology disciplines? And are we sharing it with senior management so that together, we can develop an understanding of what it means for our business?
When technical teams have a 360 degree view of their customer’s world and a much higher degree of autonomy, they can make decisions to fix customers’ problems and develop new solutions. This shift has a huge bearing on the role of senior management, whose job becomes much more about creating and sustaining the right environments.
What Lean thinking teaches us is that leading is an activity, not a position. We must shift the power from the top of the business to much lower down, to the people who help deliver the day-to-day ‘nuts and bolts’ of the business.
Rather than hold them within the tight constraints of frameworks involving delivering to a specification, we are looking at how we deliver, to improve what we do, and go beyond the specification.
This gives people a much greater sense of involvement; they take on more responsibility and they start to make more decisions – quite naturally. Thus, their levels of learning and enthusiasm increase.