I went through a discussion today that reminded me of a similar situation early in a lean effort at my old manufacturing company a few years back.
Early in lean efforts, one of the things I focus on is 5S, for many reasons. One reason is that it gets employees to evaluate their workplace, give input, and make suggestions. One of the positive side effects of this change is the realization in some employees, as I've heard them say, quite literally:
“You mean it's OK to move things, it's OK to make changes?”
And you know what… sometimes that unleashes a wave of changes that were pent up. I heard this comment today and it's exciting to see people changing things that they wouldn't have considered changing a month ago. These are little “just do it” ideas, sort of like Norman Bodek talks about. They didn't require suggestion forms or approval, no formal “kaizen event”… just do it, just make some small change that makes your workplace slightly easier… then repeat. That's kaizen, right?
The thing that's curious to me is that nobody ever told them, “Don't make changes,” but this fear or unease builds up to the point that the most obvious waste is never addressed by anyone. People dealt with it, or maybe complained, but didn't take action.
I guess it shows that when you don't ask people for their input, when you don't ask them what could be better, that people assume that you don't care and that they shouldn't either?
What are your experiences with these mindsets?
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