CI 101, Leadership

How do you show respect to your team? First, show they matter.

Three characteristics of workplaces with toxic environments are disrespect, ineffective communication, and lack of growth.  Those things are the contrary of what lean promotes.   The heart of the Lean system is the people.  Continuous improvement is not about tools, it is about people.   In a successful continuous improvement culture, leadership trusts the team to solve their problems, and that requires much more than training.  

The best way to feel motivated and good about their jobs is to feel leadership’s respect and trust.  Unfortunately, not everybody treats their peers with respect, not in the workplace, not in the street, or in the supermarket.  Considering the turmoil we are living these days between the pandemic and the civil unrest for the double standard in our society, it is worth to list basic ways to show respect.


Show Respect!

Leaders and citizens, we all need to learn how to listen more and talk less and practice compassion.  We need to hold one another accountable, be consistent with our beliefs, driving out fear of speaking up, and trying to do things better.  The workplace is not an isolated island, what happens in our society affect it, and vice versa.  Perhaps, the lean pillar of respect the people can help us to go through these challenging times inside and out of the workplace.  As I learned from Bob Chapman’s TrulyHumanLeadership blog, “To get trust, you have to freely give it.”

CI 101

Do you believe in these lean misconceptions?

Do not makes these mistakes, learn about lean misconceptions

Like many other things in life, continuous improvement is often misunderstood. During my lean journey, the following are the most common ones that I have encountered.

CI is not a department store, you don’t get to pick and choose what you think you need. CI is a system, the only way to achieve big and consistent results is by using all its parts. CI is a business management system designed to provide customer value with fewer resources. It is made up of a group of principles, best practices, and tools. 

The heart of the system is the people, and you show respect by developing them. These motivated and engaged teams participate in the improvement process and create value. You cannot focus on the tools while ignoring the people’s part.

The second misconception is the idea of delegating the implementation. CI thinking is opposite to traditional management, for a successful implementation the company culture has to change. This change only happens if it is coming from top to bottom. Top leaders need to learn and practice CI every day, everywhere, just like the rest of the team. They show commitment by supporting and actively participating in the transformation.

Another mistake is believing that CI is a cost reduction tool. Do not start this journey without a clear purpose. Why do you want to do it? If the answer is cost reduction, think again. Go and see, ask why, and show respect will lead you to achieve cost goals. But that cannot be the purpose. Instead, think about changing lives or creating value.

The biggest misconception is believing that CI is only for manufacturing companies. Continuous improvement, Best Business Practices, Danaher Business System and Lean Manufacturing are different names for a way to conduct business. The foundation for all of them is the Toyota Production System (TPS). The name Lean Manufacturing shifts your attention to manufacturing, and TPS makes people focus on cars. I prefer to use continuous improvement or Best Business Practices. Those are general terms with no reference to any industry.

Now you know what not to expect from continuous improvement. If you haven’t yet, read my post What is Continuous Improvement and Why you Need it? You will see why you need it in your business.