As I’m going through revisions of my book, Lean Hospitals, a theme jumps out at me in Chapter 2…. it’s all about trust.
The first excerpt says:
Gary Convis, a retired Toyota senior vice president who had been one of the top-ranking Americans in the company, wrote that the “managerial culture for TPS is rooted in several factors, including developing and sustaining a sense of trust, a commitment to involving those affected by first, teamwork, equal and fair treatment for all, and finally, fact-based decision making and long-term thinking.
The Convis quote reference: Convis, Gary, “Role of Management in a Lean Manufacturing Environment,” Society of Automotive Engineers, http://www.sae.org/manufacturing/lean/column/leanjul01.htm
The second reference says:
Lean “is a system that demands employees do their best, but does not overwork them. The sense of trust created between management and the workers can promote efficiency and at the same time a relaxed feeling.” (Japanese Management Association, Kanban Just-in Time at Toyota: Management Begins at the Workplace (New York: Productivity Press, 1986), xv.)
How can we utilize any of the Lean practices in a culture where there isn’t trust? Don’t we need trust for people to speak up to identify waste or to make suggestions about improvements?
Dr. W. Edwards Deming always said the job of management was to drive out fear from the workplace.
More trust, less fear. Is the formula for what we’d call “Lean Culture” any more complicated than that?
Does the broader discussion in the Lean community need to be more about trust and fear? I hear a lot of talk about 5S and A3, but not trust and fear. We often hear about cost savings from Lean, but maybe we need to talk more about the soft stuff, like morale and culture.
When the discussion online centers around things like “tell me how you used Lean methods in your patient admission process so I can copy what you did,” I think we’re selling everybody short. Can we talk more about what we’ve done to reduce fear and increase trust in the workplace?
About LeanBlog.org: Mark Graban is a consultant, author, and speaker in the “lean healthcare” methodology. Mark is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. Mark is also the VP of Customer Success for the technology company KaiNexus. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.