All of the five principles must be seen together because they all contribute to changing our focus and our approach to work at the operator, mid-manager and senior manager levels.
This principle is about giving power to those lower down. They know the conditions that conspire to create problems but feel unable to do anything about it.
In the Lean IT world we actually want to service all of the problems at the grassroots level and enable that level to take action on them.
We don’t escalate problems or get a centralized process re-engineering group to come in and sort it out . In Lean IT it is the people themselves continuously improving. Continuous improvement is a real-time in-line activity where problems are solved all the time.
Highlighting a problem, identifying and detecting the error, correcting the error, and then going the whole way to close that loop to prevent that error involves a lot of collaboration at a very detailed level. In technology it’s not the process thats wrong but rather, the intricate steps within the process at a very deep level that causes the problems.
So we need to give power to the people to solve those problems at that level. In turn, the mid management level need to clear obstacles that stop staff from solving problems.
Most of the problems are at a low level in the organization. But senior managers often act as if they are at the top level. They see major incidents and see the reports on major incidents and feel empowered by that.
What they don't see are the thousands if not millions of near misses that take place lower down the organizational structure just because root conditions hadn’t conspired to make something happen when they were looking at it.
I’ve seen many incidents where we've seen similar problems come in and theres been very little impact. A second later conditions have changed and bang, it boils over, the very same low level problem.
So the signs are there but in a non-Lean IT organization they don't look for them. They just wait and manage the catastrophes when they happen.