How generational changes affect lean transformation
There are many environmental factors that affect the lean community and their work towards lean transformation. Some of these factors are positive and some are negative. Bad lean implementations hurts the reputation of lean. The weak economy shook out some of the bad implementation, and refocused many of the good ones.
The changing generation of leaders in organizations is another one. Most lean transformations of the last 20 years requires the changing of leadership behaviors. It required taking people trained in command-and-control and converting them to engaged and empowering. Of course, that’s a gross oversimplification, and some leaders were more prepared than others, but it still required that transformation.
What we see today is leaders taking the helm, anywhere from Plant Manager to CEO to the Board room, who’s professional path always included lean. These leaders learned lean on the job. They don’t have to be convinced. They don’t need to be transformed. They are lean thinkers. They acted as lean change agents trying to transform leaders, and now they are in positions of power and influence.
A great example is John Krafcik. He was a researcher at MIT when he coined the term “lean.” He is now the CEO of Hyundai Motor America, one of the fastest improving auto companies in the world.
We also see people entering the workforce as ready-to-go lean change agents, such as Christina Kach who just started blogging on Mark Graban’s blog.Why is all of this important?
Because it changes how lean transformation must work. It changes the set of problems that we have. Lean leaders still need to be developed. But it’s often no-longer about buy-in. It’s not about converting old behaviors. It’s about enabling and leveraging the ones that leaders already have.
Here’s what happens if we don’t change your approaches for these new situations. If you try to engage leaders who are already onboard with an approach designed for leaders who are resisting, you are likely to take steps backwards and lose your change to engage. If you take new already-lean-educated employees and try to start with too basic approach, they will likely lose interest as well.
The landscape of lean is changing. Your approaches must change with with it.
Reflection question: How have you see the face of lean leadership change? And how are you adapting to it?