Discussions about continuous improvement frequently mention the term ‘waste’ which is anything that doesn’t add value. But how often are the seven wastes in Lean discussed with respect to managing teams?
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In an attempt to take a look at this subject through a familiar Lean lens, consider how Taichi Ohno’s seven wastes apply to leadership.
In Ohno’s view, overproduction is the worst of these seven types of waste in Lean because it creates or hides all the other forms of waste. For leadership, though, it is really something else that drives other waste. It is the waste of mistrust.
When leaders and team members don’t trust each other, the other forms of waste are exaggerated.
Why do leaders micromanage? They don’t trust that an employee will get it right.
Why don’t employees take a risk and choose to act independently when the leader is not around? They don’t trust that their leader will respect the decision, and are worried that they will get in trouble if they make a mistake.
Trust is the cornerstone of a leader-team relationship. When it exists, an organization is much more effective than it would otherwise be.
Building trust takes time and is not always easy. A good starting point, though, is for a manager to apply a continuous improvement mindset to her own actions as a leader. Have a misstep with one of your a direct reports? Think of something that you could have done more effectively? Do a root cause analysis. Look for the waste. Come up with a better way to do things next time. Make a change. Make sure the change was effective. Repeat.
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By Jeff Hajek
April 14th, 2009
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