How Would a "Lean Grouplet" Work?


    The Google Way: Give Engineers Room – New York Times

    I thought this was an interesting article about change management in a professional environment, Google. How do they implement change in the company?

    “…when the thing you really want to work on is to make a broad change across the whole organization, you need something new — you need a “grouplet.”

    These grouplets have practically no budget, and they have no decision-making authority. What they have is a bunch of people who are committed to an idea and willing to work to convince the rest of the company to adopt it.” (NY Times)

    With Lean, people often ask questions like “How do we get buy in for Lean?” How does Google get buy in for ideas? By ad-hoc groups of employees convincing each other about the merits of the idea.

    “Agile” software development is the buzzword commonly ascribed to the applications of Lean approaches to that industry. So, at Google:

    “The Agile grouplet formed to try to take this idea and spread it throughout the organization. It did so by banding together and reaching out to as many groups as it could to teach the new process. It created “Agile Office Hours” when you could stop by and ask questions about the process. It handed out books and gave internal talks on the topic. It attended staff meetings and created the concept of the “Agile Safari,” in which you could volunteer to work for a time in groups that were using Agile, to see how it ticks.”

    I wonder how Lean would be accepted at our different companies, in our different industries, if we took this approach. How would buy-in increase if we had had “Lean Office Hours” to actually engage employees about what Lean is and how Lean will benefit customers, employees and the company? How could we get buy in other than mandating it through “thou shalt” mandates from management? Could this approach of the “grouplet” work in your company?

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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.


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