By Mark Edmondson, LEAN Affiliates
Last week I had three unrelated yet similar phone conversations that you, an executive in pursuit of excellence, may find of interest. These calls had several similarities:
– All are with experienced mid-level professionals (they report to a director, VP level) who are the champion for their company's operational change initiative (lean, six sigma, operational excellence, etc.)
– All are with profitable, large to mid-sized manufacturers or distributors ($200 million, $1.2 billion, $5 billion)
– All are passionate about making a difference for their company by creatively applying lean and/or six sigma. They all expressed a vision and the desire for transformational changes that would represent a breakthrough for their company.
– Although this was my first encounter with these folks, all seemed like articulate, informed professionals.
…and all were frustrated with leadership and looking for another job. The irony is that their management thinks highly of them.
So what's the problem?
These champions were frustrated because senior management wasn't serious about making any changes beyond superficial work on the plant floor.
These champions were frustrated because senior management abrogated their leadership role by delegating operational excellence and lean to someone else within the organization.
These champions were frustrated because senior management's priority was with “easier” and “faster” ways to achieve bottom line results: mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, outsourcing, squeezing vendors, and reducing headcount.
It reminded me of a letter from James Womack I received awhile ago that addressed this issue of lack of leadership commitment. His message makes sense: As a professional, you make a difference with the the support you have. I agree, yet these conversations are witness to the cost of this misalignment of intention over a long period of time – you risk losing your good talent.
I'm not a headhunter, but if you're looking for three high-caliber and somewhat altruistic operations professionals, give me a call.