Is it Lean’s Fault or the Old Management System’s? | Mark Graban

See on Scoop.itlean manufacturing
Blog post at Lean Blog :

“[…]The problem is the culture doesn’t change overnight. Leaders have years or decades of old habits (bad habits) that run counter to Lean thinking. They might be (might!) be trying to change, but people will still fall back into old habits, especially when under pressure.

I hear complaints (in recent cases) coming from different provinces in Canada that say things like:

Lean is causing hospitals to be “de-skilled” by replacing nurses with aides. Lean drives a focus on cost and cost cutting, including layoffs or being understaffedLean is stressing out managers by asking them to do more and taking nothing off their plateNurses hate Lean because they aren’t being involved in changes[…]”

Michel Baudin‘s comments:

In this post, Mark Graban explains how the leadership in Canadian hospitals is slapping the “Lean” label on ancient and counterproductive “cost-cutting” methods, and how the victims of these practices unfairly blame Lean.

This is definitely L.A.M.E., Mark’s apt term for “Lean As Misguidedly Executed,” and is found in Manufacturing as well as Health Care. Much of the article — and of the discussion that follows — is about what I call yoyo staffing: you hire more than you should in boom times, and lay off in recessions.

Of course, it isn’t what Toyota did, and churning your work force in this fashion not only disrupts people’s lives but is bad business. Hiring, training and firing repeatedly prevents your organization from accumulating the knowledge and skills it needs.

Mark makes the case that Lean should not be blamed for mistakes that have nothing to do with it. Other than raising consciousness, however, the post does not propose solutions to keep this from happening.

While there have been studies published on Toyota’s approach to Human Resources (HR), I don’t recall seeing much in the American Lean literature on topics like career planning for production operators.

In his comments, Bob Emiliani paints the current generation of leaders as “a lost cause,” and places his hopes on the next. He seems to suggest that the solution is to wait out or fire the current, baby-boomer leadership and replace it with millenials. I don’t buy it and, deep down, neither does Bob, because he ends by saying “While one always hopes the “next generation will do better”, it could turn out to be a false hope.”

Like everything in HR, generational change has to be planned carefully. The people who rose to leadership positions presumably did so not just because of bad habits but because they also had something of value to offer. And the way the baton is passed is also a message to the incoming leaders: it tells them what to expect when their turn comes.

See on www.leanblog.org

2 comments on “Is it Lean’s Fault or the Old Management System’s? | Mark Graban

  1. Since “Lean” is not a controlled appellation, anyone can attach it to whatever they are recommending, and trade on the assumption audiences make that it is in some way related to the Toyota Production System. As this inevitably results in the label losing credibility, I am surprised that it has lasted this long. Whatever the next generation does, I am willing to bet that it won’t be called “Lean.”

    The commitment of the very top of management to transform a company is outside the scope of what a consultant can achieve, and it must exist before the consultant is hired, Consulting help is one of the tools top managers use to cascade their commitment down through the hierarchy.

    What the top managers need to do is a subject for a book, not a blog post, and the best I have seen so far is Art Byrne’s The Lean Turnaround, although even his success at Wiremold reportedly has been undone after the acquisition by Legrand.

    The best a consultant can do when Lean turns to L.A.M.E. is tell the client and walk away.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *