As we celebrate Independence Day in the United States (I prefer not to refer to it as the less meaningful “4th of July”), it's a time to reflect on the ideals of American freedom.
The Declaration of Independence famously said “all men are created equal.”
As we practice kaizen, or continuous improvement, in the workplace, the same ideal applies. Successful Lean organizations have people “check their titles at the door” when participating in improvement activities.
For kaizen to really become part of the culture, we cannot rely on imperial bosses, the self-styled kings and queens of the workplace, to drive improvement through royal proclamation or to have all of the answers.
However, Lean is not an “off with their heads” French Revolution that goes out of its way to disrespect those in a formal leadership position. Lean is both “bottom up” and “top down” as a form of management. All men (and women!) should have their voice heard in the workplace, as it should be their “unalienable right” to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of improvement. The pursuit of improvement brings pride in one's work, which brings happiness.
Happy Independence Day.
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