You hear a lot about “eliminating the waste” as Lean practices take hold in departments across King County. It’s exciting to hear employees talk about their work, how their roles interact to create value for their customers, and how they can change processes to increase efficiency.
You hear their passion mount as they think through work flow, discuss problems, and make decisions together. They are not only eliminating waste. They are creating engagement.
As they intentionally reflect on and discuss their work, they discover innovative approaches together. This new level of interaction not only improves processes, but strengthens relationships.
We bring Lean into our organizations to increase efficiency. And we discover an amazing by-product: healthier, more engaged workplaces. That is, when Lean works.
In order for Lean to take hold in an organization, the workplace culture must support two fundamental behaviors among workers: productive conflict and decision-making at the line level.
How do we influence a workplace culture to support these behaviors? With leadership. A different kind of leadership than most of our workplaces experience today.
To give you a sense of how leadership needs to transform in order to support a Lean culture, watch this video about Greatness by David Marquet. He describes the path of a leader who learns to embed the capacity for greatness in the people and practices of an organization, not the personality of the leader.
I’ll be writing more about how we can cultivate workplace cultures to support the spirit and practice of Lean in the weeks and months to come. If you work in a culture transitioning to Lean, please share your experiences and insights.