Successful Lean teams are iTeams
When I use this term, it is based on a simple theory that Teamwork Is an Individual Skill. In this book by Christopher Avery he describes a team as a group of individuals responding successfully to the opportunity presented by shared responsibility.
Paraphrased from the book:
Your ability to create high quality, productive relationships is fast becoming the most important factor in getting your work done. It once was management’s job to hand out individual jobs and then integrate them. Now, organizations are giving the work to teams in larger chinks and expecting teams to divide the work in an effective and efficient manner.
In Lean Engagement Teams the individual must come first and the reason there must be an I at the beginning of team, hence the iTeam.
Avery goes on to state:
- Every individual at work can be far more productive if they will take complete responsibility for the quality and productivity of each team or relationship of which they are part of. It means that..
- You may have individual accountabilities, but accomplishing these will almost always depend on successful relationships with others and their work.
- You can better attend to you own accountabilities when you assume responsibility for a larger, share task or deliverable.
- You success depends on teams. Teamwork is an individual – not –group – skill and should be treated as such.
- Individuals make a huge difference in teams, for better or worse. You can easily earn what kind of difference you make and how to build and rebuild a team.
The team concept in Lean thinking is very much individual driven. The individuals that form the team are the reason for the failures and the successes. Dr, Michael Balle and I discussed Individual Kaizen in this video:
There is always a debate on tools and the thinking processes of lean.When you talk about a system, one of the first things that I think of is the tools that are used in the system. I use the tools to make sense out of a system, but I thought that Michael Balle might feel differently with that statement. In a Business901 Podcast (recommended) I asked him, “How do you relate the tools and the thinking processes of lean?”
Michael responded: “I don’t know if you know this Zen story: when you haven’t studied Zen, you see the mountain as a mountain. Then if you really study Zen very hard then you no longer see the mountain as a mountain. But when you understand Zen, you see the mountain as a mountain. I feel the same thing about the tools.
When you first study lean, you start with the tools. Then you study it more and you get into something that is about thinking, or philosophy, or whatever. But when you do it a lot, you forget about the tools. I think the tools are essentially very important. However, I have a different take on what the tools mean.
The way I see lean as a management system is essentially a knowledge transfer system; it’s a training system. So what the tools are, the tools to me are self?study exercises to understand your processes better, it’s like a microscope or a telescope. The tool is a way to look into problems and they never solve problems by themselves.
Many people have used the tools or have wanted to implement some sort of solutions to these tools thinking it would make them better. I think that’s kind of beside the point. What makes you better is using the tool rigorously, so you understand your problems, and your own processes and then, with hard work, take the time to figure out how to solve them. It’s this process, it’s the process of solving your own problem that empowers you and which leads you to create better and more performing processes.”
I think the trend right now is to discourage the use of tools and treat Lean as a culture. I believe we are not seeing the mountain. I believe we should be embracing technology. When used correctly, I think Michael is right and leading with the tools and embracing them will empower us to do greater things. They are meant for us to see deeper, not less. We need to see the mountain again.
Lean Engagement Team (More Info): The ability to share and create knowledge with your customer is the strongest marketing tool possible.