When I talk to people about the Kaizen approach to continuous improvement, with my consulting hat on or in my role with KaiNexus, I don't find anybody who is resistant to the IDEA of continuous improvement.
But, they have a lot of questions… and behind those questions are some anxieties about this process.
Some of the questions include things that can really just be answered with questions.
What if my employees don't have any ideas? Why do you think your employees don't or won't have ideas? If you ask for ideas and they don't bring them forward, why is that? This is a good opportunity for root cause problem solving.
What if my employees have bad ideas? Why do you think your employees will have bad ideas? Are you willing to work with them in coaching them through their problem solving or their ideas? Are you willing to make the time as a leader to do this?
What if my employees just ask me to buy stuff instead of fixing processes? Again, are you willing to give them feedback and to coach them to find creative solutions if you don't have the budget to buy things they want. Can you coach them to use “creativity over capital”? Are you willing to make the time to do this?
What if my employees have selfish ideas? Are you willing to work with them to understand how to focus on customer needs and providing more value to them through Kaizen?
What if my employees come up with sub-optimizing ideas? Are you willing to coach them and work with them to understand the bigger system they work in?
What if my employees come up with ideas that violate rules or regulations? Are you willing to take the time to educate them about these rules rather than just rejecting their ideas?
This could go on and on… are the biggest questions about the front-line staff or about our managers and our culture?
Are any of the “what if?” questions really that insurmountable?
Nobody creates a culture of continuous of improvement over night. You won't do it perfectly at first. It's a learning experience, for all involved. But, you never get better at it if you don't get started.
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