An Obvious Poll Result?


Autos Talk – The Detroit News Online – 01/18/06

I'm surprised the “yes” vote is only 88.84% for this question, posed by the Detroit News:

“Ford workers, is anxiety over anticipated plant closings affecting your workplace?”

Seems like rather obvious human nature that, yes, this would impact people. I think the lesson for lean leaders is to think about your employees' anxiety and do what you can to reduce it. Even if your company is not in financial trouble when you start your lean initiative, there will be anxiety and fear, rational or otherwise. A good leader doesn't discount this and say “they shouldn't worry.” People DO worry, it's a normal human emotion. Recognize it and deal with it the best you can.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. I agree, Mark, and getting your information through the news is not great either. In one project, we held Cultural Transition training a little ahead of the first kaizen blitz. We reassured the employees that no one would be displaced through the project and used the CT training to reinforce that thought. We were able to use all of the people as we were increasing the output of the physical plant by adding operations to fill the empty spots created by resizing our cells. It worked really well.

    The problem in other projects has been that the motivation for the project has been “cost reduction” which translates pretty directly to “headcount reduction.” There is a lot of stress on most of the stakeholders. One side effect of the stress and turmoil is that turnover goes up which reduces the impact of the reduction of force. Unfortunately, the people who tend to leave this way are the ones you would have preferred to keep, and the ones who stay are not the ones you want. That impacts quality and morale.


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