A Ray of Sunshine in the Muck and Mire

Often on continuous improvement journeys, we come across big hairy monsters of slime, inefficiencies, and muck. If you’re reading this, I’m willing to bet you’re one with the ability to see through all the waste in your processes to what the process should be. You have that gift of seeing the ideal state. You can see that ray of beautiful sunshine when your process is screaming fast and delivering exactly what’s needed. You’re the athlete in a crowd of pudge.

When your boots are stuck in a bath of gunk built up from years of band-aids and patches to keep the boat afloat, you have that ever-repeating dilemma: Do you add another band-aid and move on? Or do you hit the issue with true paradigm shifting improvement – the kind of improvement that comes from being brave enough to take on years of neglect? Do you pursue the large, innovative improvement requiring more hours and effort or do you use the alternate approach of small, less demanding continuous improvement? It’s deciding between the band-aid or the scalpel.

It’s great to support small, continuous improvement to help build a culture of kaizen. To me this is a starting point in building your organization’s culture. However, it can be far more rewarding and effective at changing culture when you allow your teams to pursue the really big problems with really big solutions. Giving them the time, latitude and focus to bring together their creativity and experience to bring real change. The kind of change that allows the team to look back at their improvement with awe and pride. This gives your people engagement of what Lean really is.

photo credit: Larmer Tree Saturday: Bury Him! via photopin (license)