Does Lean Equal Honesty?
Here is a story from my plant, where we are in the early stages of a company wide lean implementation. I think this story shows how “old habits” can be hard to break.
Inside the front door, we have a large freestanding traffic light that serves as a “visual control” of sorts for safety. If the light is green, all is good. Yellow means we had a recordable injury in the last day, and red means we had a lost work day case.
Our plant manager was fretting to a group of us that there was an ergonomic recordable injury (a carpal tunnel type problem). He was mostly concerned, it seemed, about all of the phone calls he was going to get and how they would have to explain away the injury.
More disturbing though, he made a comment, “that traffic light out front was broken for a few days… we should have documented the recordable when the light was out, we could have hidden it.”
Wow. I don’t think he was joking, unfortunately. In a lean environment, isn’t half the battle being honest about the daily reality and not covering things up or hiding problems? If we can’t be honest about problems, how are we going to be honest about finding solutions and driving continuous improvement.
I’m starting to think our plant manager is one of these “concrete heads that I read about.”