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Use Action to Build Positive Emotions for Your Lean System

Why are we talking about emotion with lean? Isn’t lean this bad system used to cut people and make companies “run lean” so the owners can sell and profit?

We’re talking about emotion because that is the only way lean can succeed. And when lean succeeds with the right company and right management, it creates dynamic results that improve companies, people, products, and profits. You don’t “get” lean by reading books, you “get” lean when your hands are connected to your brain and the act of doing work makes you go “Aha!”. This is especially true when supported by a coach/trainer with deep experience to help your learning process.

Lean is a powerful system that creates many benefits, but it requires you to think and act differently than you do right now. That doesn’t mean it is hard, but it requires change from everyone and sometimes that change can be hard.

A big part of that difficult change is in group culture, where a cell, department, team, plant or any collection of people has their own way of “how we do things.” The think and act differently part tends to lose when it runs into the daily reality of “how we do things.” Again, there are many reasons for that, so the question is – what can we do about it?

Consider two opposite approaches to simplify the decision: Study or Act.

Study is what you’re doing right now if you’ve read this far. I hope it prompts you to act! Study is when you think you can change culture just with what you read, what the surveys say, and what the consultant recommended. When you chart graphs, collect data, perform analysis, and then do it over again because there’s new data. Study is the rocking chair – it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.

Act is a commitment fixed by time with allocated resources. Act happens when your inner engine or frustration with the way things are overpowers the static of “how we do things.” Act is an effort that can start anywhere in a company to start a positive change.

Connect the positive power of lean with the things that motivate people (autonomy, mastery, purpose) to get emotional activity. Plan with enough information that you’re confident in the direction, work in alignment with lean principles (flow, pull, balance), combine the power of your team and act to create change that gets results.

Focused projects that require minimal resources are great places to start. Everyone has ideas on how to improve the way they work, and they sometimes just need encouragement to try it out. Create that space. Do something that makes a ripple in the status quo, that shows constant is not permanent, and that change can be good. Then do it again, and again, and again until you’re never finished.

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