Lean Training in a Turnaround!

It takes guts, to start with lean training in a turnaround! That’s what Bob Weiner did with PAS Technologies (B901 Podcast). When you think about it, what better way to get buy-in of the employees than starting to build a lean culture.

Can you imagine what your first day would be like in a turnaround? That day one meeting with the employees, they are sitting there thinking about getting fired. A very different message is communicated when the boss calls everyone together dispenses with the mumble jumble and spend time talking about a Lean Transformation. When the boss lays out the actual training that is going to take place to the employees, he shows commitment.iStock_000008005150XSmall.jpg

It will not do a lot of good to expose just a few people to a lean transformation. With everyone taking part in the program, you create uniform language and system that can be used throughout the company. Training and development programs help shape the culture and attitudes of the business. Lean education is the best way to stop the finger-pointing and gain individual responsibility.

What is a Lean culture? From a recent blog post, John Shook, Senior Adviser at the Lean Enterprise Institute, Inc., said: ” Toyota -> revolutionized the technical side of lean production with inclusion of product complexity (for customer benefit). More importantly it revolutionized the social dimension, respecting workers brains as well as their hands (so factory workers become knowledge workers, the scientists).”

You can hardly move quick enough in a turnaround situation. Sometimes education of an employee is imperative for them to know what is not their decision to make. In a lean culture, seldom is just one person isolated in making a decision. So the chance of making a smart mistake will be reduced but may still be possible. But making a smart mistake twice is very unlikely. It also will ensure a mistake to be handled quickly and efficiently, when they do happen. Some employees may not survive the transition. However, the fittest and most willing will adapt and be the survivors. Your company turnaround will be defined by the people that are willing to participate in it.

Lean training is not learned in the classroom. It is learn in the application and participation in kaizens, waste walks and other lean tools. But to pass the correct knowledge on you need very proficient lean people in key roles to lead these events. You know training is the right thing to do, but it still takes a lot of guts to do it!

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