Monday, July 9, 2012

Beware INITIATIVES

By Pascal Dennis

Like most people, I went to business and engineering school with the best intentions - get a better job, learn interesting stuff, become a better manager and so on.

But we pick up more than we bargain for - including dysfunctional mental models, which I've written about at length.

We begin to believe that, because we are so smart and well-educated, we can manage from a distance.

And the corollaries:
  1. What can front line workers possible teach us?

  2. Improvement means head office INITIATIVES dreamed up by people -- just like us!

Result?

Endless INITIATIVES stream out of head office.

They crowd out real work and often crush our managers and team members.

Everywhere, I see good people struggling under the weight of actual work plus the funny work head office insists on.

Executives are like crows - they like shiny things.


Here's some advice:
  1. Resist the temptation

  2. Put the shiny things on a wall in the Executive metrics room

  3. Look at them occasionally, but don't do anything

  4. When the organization has some "white space", pull one off the wall and look at it

Then put it back and forget about it.

Here's a reflection point:

At our old Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada plant - we never had INITIATIVES

We had tough performance targets set through Strategy Deployment, and the expectation that we'd figure out root causes & countermeasures.

Result: we focused entirely on making the day's production and improving our management system.

We were free to balance continuous improvement with breakthrough.

We owned our management system.

Best,

Pascal

PS Congratulations to Spain for winning Euro 2012! Splendid tournament - congratulations to the hosts, Poland & Ukraine.

Wonderful creative play by Italy, Germany & others. (Fortitude by the Greek side, at a tough time.)

3 comments:

  1. So what you're saying is that... Lean is not a program??

    I feel like I go against that thinking often. I cringe when I see "Lean Program" in magazines or an email.

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  2. I'm with you, John.

    "Lean Program", for me, is code for "nothing will come of this."

    Best regards,

    Pascal

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