From fast thinking to deep thinking
A true lean transformation relies on the engagement of all people all the time or, as the lean masters taught us, on “developing the kaizen mind in every employee rather than applying improvement tools to every process.” Kaizen is the Japanese word for improvement, or “change for the best” that, in the lean context, means relentlessly challenging how we work and what can be improved, step-by-step, in the spirit of 100 improvements of 1% being more powerful than one improvement of 100%.
Lean thinking, as we now know, requires a complete mindset turnaround of the company’s leadership, which must learn to: lead from the ground up; to put the customer first no matter what; to relentlessly focus on improvement and teaching problem solving; to understand and develop the power of intense collaboration; and, lastly, to aim to engage every employee in making suggestions on how to run their own work and contribute to the company’s success. This is never easy, and not all leaders have the gumption to take it on board, but 20 years down the road the leadership aspects of lean is well understood.
The model, however, relies on a profound transformation of every person’s way of thinking – not simply C-class level. Therefore, the question for employees in a lean company is: what does lean do for you?
When all goes well, if you work in a lean process you will see:
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