Leading Lean A-Z: K, Be Kinetic

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 01-08-10


by Jamie Flinchbaugh,

This continues a series titled Leading Lean A-Z. This post is K: Be Kinetic.

Did you ever have one of those days where you just wanted to put your feet up on your desk and breath in and out for a while? The lean journey will still be there. There are still many challenges out there. I don’t need to do it all today. Let’s just take our foot off the gas.

But change requires momentum. That momentum is either gained or lost. And to feed that momentum, the leader must be a continuous provider of kinetic energy.

Consider the example of the flywheel. Once you build up enough momentum, carrying that forward requires little energy. But the energy required to get up to speed is substantial. If you keep pushing, pausing, pushing, pausing, you will never get the flywheel with enough momentum that progress becomes easy.

Why does this matter in real life? Why is it my energy?

It doesn’t have to be your energy. Many of the Leading Lean characteristics are about how you get others to push with you. But you don’t get others to put in energy unless you are. You must create the wake.

Consider the other people in your organization that want to move forward. If they must create motion from stillness, it requires a lot of energy and willpower. UNLESS there is a wake to follow in. If you can create a wake for them, they can follow your lead with dramatically less energy than without it. Your job in being kinetic is to create enough forward motion and energy that people can draft in your wake and help you build that momentum.

But a lean leader also wants to preserve their own kinetic energy, so instead of taking a break, they will slip into someone else’s wake for a bit. This preserves their energy while still moving forward. You didn’t stop. You just found a temporary path of forward motion that required less energy that cutting your own path.

Creating a wake for others to follow makes it easier for them. Being a good follower and slipping into others way makes it easier for you. Slipping back and forth between these two energy modes is a sign of an expert lean leader, one who never loses momentum but knows how to be efficient with their energy over the long haul of a major change.

Being kinetic also requires shifting your direction when you run into immovable barriers. There are plenty of barriers worth breaking through. Just like a stream cutting a path through the earth, it will occasionally cut right through the middle of a rock. But most of the time it finds away around the rock. The lean leader has to sometimes find their way around barriers. If there is a lack of interest, change the story, attach to something that does have interest, or go find the one corner of the organization that does have interest. If the skills aren’t strong enough to succeed, scale back and focus on just one skill, or get some help. Know the barriers. Know the best way to maintain your forward motion. And sometimes that means bending and flowing around some barriers.

What are your actions to be kinetic? Ask yourself the following:

1. What are you doing to create a wake for others to follow?

2. Who has a wake you can slip into?

3. What barriers do you need to flow around instead of run against?

You can find more from Jamie on his blog or on twitter.

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