For a long time, we have been saying that leadership is one of the top reasons that lean efforts fail. Many have begun to figure this out. Lean is more than changing a few systems and training a few people. But why does a support of improving leadership have to include a disdain for management. Management is like leadership – there is good, and there is bad. But it is different, and it is just as important as leadership.
There is a recent article in SME’s Manufacturing Engineering Magazine called Leadership is Critical to Lean. This is of course true. But throughout it basically takes bad characteristics in organizations and calls it management. For example, management is described as:
- Often doesn’t listen
- Stays detached
- Often insincere
- Knows it all
- In his/her office
Perhaps this is a description of bad management, but it is not management. Management is not as sexy as leadership. That’s why writers don’t like to write about it. But anyone who’s ever been a manager knows there is more to it than authors think. I just happened to write about this in my latest Assembly Magazine Leading Lean column which you can read here.
Leadership is required to get things going. The quality and depth of leadership will determine how far and how fast you progress. But without management, it will be one step forward, one step backwards. Management is about accountability, daily problem solving, marshaling resources. Quality management is the backstop that sustains progress made. It’s time to stop badmouthing management and instead focus on improvement management.
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