In the second instance, the team essentially takes what already exists and gives it a new name or branding, making it their own. To a certain extent this is understandable but, as with the first instance, takes time and energy without necessarily improving the approach. A lot of the time the argument is that it helps the team to associate better and to take ownership but the danger is that we end up with standard approaches being given jingoistic names or terms that do not facilitate easy discussion or cross-sharing.
In the final manifestation, the team performs a real improvement (Kaizen) to the approach and this results in something that appears better than the original. Nevertheless, the risk with this approach is that, if it's done before the original approach has been trialled and tested, it may not be a real improvement and may in fact really be a cleverly disguised manifestation of 1 or 2.
In my experience the organisation is better served by taking the existing approach and experimenting with it within the company. Try it out, see what works and what doesn't and only change it when there is a clear and real problem statement. Innovate and improve, by all means, but for the right reasons; increasing the value for the Customer and delivering solutions that better serve them; not simply because one has a preference for a different way.
PDCA / Kaizen in action: Standards are the basis for continuous improvement
This takes Leadership who will visibly demonstrate an adherence to standards and act as teachers in the workplace, helping the team members to follow the standard ways-of-working and to problem solve to innovate and improve. When this level of focus on Excellence is apparent, the Business will prosper, with the Team Members focussed on improving Products and Services for their Customer and looking outward instead of inward.
To end, I want to quote Gary Kaplin, M.D., CEO of Virginia Mason:
When I first stood up in front of physicians in 2002 and talked about standard work, people asked, “What are you talking about? Do you mean standardized mediocrity?” Well in 2008, we had a professional staff meeting on the topic of standard work, and the conclusion from the doctors in the trenches was we need much more standard work. They realized waste you can take out of the processes through standard work, and it gives them the ability to use their skills much more effectively.
Source: http://ethix.org/2011/01/11/dr-gary-s-kaplan-determined-steps-to-transformation, January 11, 2011
Taiichi Ohno, considered the Father of TPS (the Toyota Production System), said it best with his quote about Toyota Managers:
Taiichi Ohno quote; from Mark Graban's slideshare
By going to the Gemba and helping to solve the problem where it is happening; by leading Kaizen Events, undertaking Kamishibai and being seen as a Visible Leader; you will begin to live the Lean Principles of:
To do this you must help them to make their workplace, and the processes and value streams within it, visual and, in virtual environments, such as most creative and transactional environments are, this is even more important and the utilisation of tools such as a CommCell (Communication Cell) can be a great way of achieving this visualisation
An example of a CommCell in a Healthcare environment
To once again utilise the wisdom of Ohno:
"Make your workplace into a Showcase that can be understood by everyone at a Glance"
Visible leadership is essential for your Organisation and this alone can be the Critical Success Factor of the essential engagement of your People in your Lean Transformation.
If you're interested in reading more about this, 'The Lean Turnaround' by Art Byrne has some great examples of how he has been a Visible Leader throughout his successful Leadership Career.
As a follow-up to this article I recorded a Podcast on the Gemba Academy and you can listen to it here.
If the two books mentioned in my article, Lean Thinking and the Lean Turnaround, are of interest to you, click the links to be directed to Amazon.com.
Feel free to visit my Website and Blog at: lean-master.com and my LinkedIn posts may be found here.
Follow me on Twitter: @LeanMaster1
"I aim to promote the global sharing of best practices in the application of Lean Thinking."