Developing Your Lean Education Plan
I am working on my next Leading Lean column and as usual, found myself really constrained by the word length limits of the column. I am writing on the topic of developing a lean education plan. Of course, this probably deserves to be turned into an ebook based on how complex and how important the topic is. While the column won’t be out for a little while, here is an outline of key things to consider:
1. Understand your own environment. Every organization is different.
2. Develop an ideal state for your education plan before working on the details.
3. As you develop your plans, think long-term. Specifically, think in terms of someone’s career, not just next steps.
4. Education is broader than training. Training is just a tool.
5. Consider your constraints wisely. If you conduct training with no impact, it was by definition waste.
As I will expand upon those points significantly, one point that I didn’t have room for was the education plan for your lean leaders. Most organizations have a handful of people that are out in front on the bell-curve. They are your lean thought leaders, lean thinkers, lean change agents. Both their knowledge and passion are out in front and setting the example. Most education plans focus on the concept of catching everyone else up to the lean leaders. This of course is important, because it is the mass under the bell-curve that will move your organization forward. However, you must also continue investing in those lean thought leaders. They must continue learning and developing new skills and ideas. If not, everyone else may catch up. When that happens, there is no one out in front pulling the organization forward. You don’t want too narrow a bell-curve. That kind of organization has no tension in it. You want a bell-curve that spreads out a bit, with leaders and followers.
Your lean change agents will put most of their time into moving everyone else forward. They are probably, by nature, servant leaders. This means they think more in terms of others needs than their own. Make sure there is a plan for their needs. Continue their development. Based on their role and their attitude, I propose the return on investment in further education of your lean leaders are the best dollars you can spend. What do you think? And more importantly, what do you do to keep your lean thought leaders learning?