Role Modeling for Change [Lessons from the Road]

by Jamie Flinchbaugh on 06-08-14

My last two Lessons from the Road columns [Building Behaviors Bedrock of Lean Success and Build a Deliberate Culture, Not an Accidental One] focused on the tactics and strategies of culture change, which is crucial for a successful lean journey. One of those tactics is to role model the right behaviors, and so I have taken my next column to focus on role modeling.

Before you read this column answer these questions for yourself first.

1. Do you think you role model?

2. Name 10 specific instances in the last month where you role modeled a specific behavior in a specific way.

3. Do you still think you role model?

For many, the answers will be Yes, Uhhhhhhh…, No.

Here is an excerpt from the column:

Direct observation. Some people call this going to the gemba, or go and see, but the behavior is being able to observe work as it occurs in its true form. You observe what actually happens, not what is supposed to happen. This is one of those behaviors that’s all too easy to say that you do without actually having to demonstrate it.

At a BMW plant, after each daily quality meeting, time is reserved for direct observation. The time is reserved, but the topic and participants aren’t determined until the meeting. The observation is focused on which problem appears to be the least well understood. The leader in the room participates in the observation and often makes the decision about what observation needs to be done. Because everyone has reserved the time on their schedule, there are no excuses for not doing it immediately.

You can read the entire IndustryWeek column here.

I’m sure many of you do have good examples of role modeling, especially those who easily answered my second question. I would encourage you to share some of your examples for others in the comments section below.