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:
- What can front line workers possible teach us?
- Improvement means head office INITIATIVES dreamed up by people -- just like us!
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:
- Resist the temptation
- Put the shiny things on a wall in the Executive metrics room
- Look at them occasionally, but don't do anything
- When the organization has some "white space", pull one off the wall and look at 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.