This post is on a topic you probably all have had experience with at one point or another (or even all the time) in your career. A superior makes a decision, and you are internally wincing because you know right away that it is a really bad idea. In this post I would like to talk about uncertainty and decision making, and how to make better suggestions. If you are a regular reader of my posts, you probably already know the answer: Involve the employees! This post is a continuation of my previous post on military leadership.
In a recent LinkedIn discussion, there was a disagreement on leadership favoring a much more authoritarian leadership style and stating “A general who asks his soldiers if they will fight, he is not yet ready for war.” I disagree with this view, both for military and especially for manufacturing. Yet, this discussion inspired me to write two posts on the difficult subject of leadership. This first post here looks in more detail at military leadership, and the occasional need of soldiers to refuse, ignore, or disobey an order. A second post will look at what this means for manufacturing.
Many companies want to achieve a lean production system. For this, these companies conduct lean transformations. And this in turn needs the buy-in of the people who will be working with the transformed system later on, usually the operators. However, a problem many lean transformations encounter is that … the operators don’t want to transform! This is of course a challenge. Let’s have a look at why this happens, and how you can prevent and overcome the issue.
Leaders not only make decisions, but also have a large impact on the mood and the culture in a company. Often, they like to be right. Yet, they are only humans, they don’t know everything, and they do make mistakes. Hence, a good culture for disagreement is important to make better decisions. In this post I would like to talk more about the value of disagreement, and why it is not common to find it in industry.
Leader standard work. Sometimes also called standard work for leaders. A term that floats around quite a bit in lean manufacturing, but I always find it hard to make it more specific. The idea follows the lean concept to standardize things, and tries to standardize the work of managers or leaders. The idea itself is not bad, but it always feels like nailing Jell-O to a wall. There are definitely some worthwhile elements, but sometimes it appears almost mystical. Let’s have a look: