For the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself thinking about some of the Lean basics. Maybe because there was a lot of great discussion about ‘Back to Basics’ at the Portugal Lean Summit 2018, or maybe it’s because I’ve been focused on writing my next book How to Coach for Creativity and Service Excellence: A Workbook for Lean Coaches.
Today, as I was writing about one of the most basic lean practices – ‘going to see’ – I wondered how many leaders really make the time to ‘go see’ on a regular basis? And then I wondered, for those leaders that do, do they just ‘go to see’ how the work is being done, or are they also ‘going to see’ how the people who are doing the work are feeling? Going to see how the work is done is great! But, if leaders don’t take the time, while they’re in gemba (the place where the work for customers is actually performed), to ‘check-in’ with the people who are doing the work, they’ve missed an important opportunity! Because most people come to work each day, eager to get all the work done that their customers need. When they are overwhelmed by more than they can handle, or when there are problems that they can’t resolve, they feel frustrated and stressed. And, that’s not how they should feel, because unhappy, stressed employees don’t make for happy customers. And overwhelmed, unhappy and stressed employees are more likely to make mistakes and to become disengaged. When we ‘go’ to where people are really working and find employees who aren’t ‘feeling’ happy and satisfied, it gives us the wonderful opportunity to find out what’s hard for them in the process, and to help them, right then and there, create easier, more effective and efficient ways to work. Then they – and their customers – will be happier.
Looking back on statistics and metrics about yesterday’s work, and at emoji’s showing how people are feeling can be helpful. Even more helpful, though, is making the time to go ‘back to basics’ and ‘go see’ for yourself!