By August 16, 2005 1 Comments Read More →

Great Lean Discipline Story with New Chrysler head LaSorda

New Chrysler head LaSorda sees improved earnings in 2006, plans ‘smart’ output –

You can tell LaSorda is a real lean guy from the longer WSJ version of this article, I love it:

During the mid-1990s, Mr. LaSorda was plant manager at GM Eisenach factory, a showcase for lean production in the former East Germany. “I was a fanatic on discipline,” Mr. LaSorda recalls. Assured by workers in one part of the plant that they cleaned up under parts racks twice a week, he wrote his name and the date on a piece of paper and dropped it under a rack. A week later, after the workers had assured him again that they cleaned up twice a week, he picked up the paper to prove them wrong. “I got mad,” he says. The workers began using a sign-up system to verify that the cleaning got done.

I think the simple idea of “discipline” is often forgotten in lean implementations. That applies to managers as well as production workers. Managers need to have the discipline to walk the shop floor and make sure that discipline is being maintained, that systems are being used, and that processes are being followed. While many think a “lean manager” is a nurturing coach, there’s also a time for getting angry. The key is finding the balance between those two aspects of leading. Workers will respond to things that managers pay attention to and ask questions about. If you pay attention to safety and quality, and ask questions (or get angry even), people will respond and know that you’re serious. Note in the story above, that LaSorda was teaching, even though he got mad. He wasn’t just yelling for the sake of yelling, I would think.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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