Operations Payoff

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Empowering Workers to Enact Change

One of the concerns I’ve always had about Lean is the strong focus on process and the somewhat weak focus on people. World Class Manufacturing predated Lean, and it was comprised of three basic elements, one of which is involving people:

1) Total Quality Management

2) JIT

3) Total Employee Involvement

While the House of Lean has a pillar named Respect for People, in practice most organizations focus on process improvement and workplace organization and overlook worker involvement. Particularly in Six Sigma the worker is often pushed aside while the experts determine the improvements.

Peter Drucker considered his most important contribution to be the concept of the responsible worker and the self-governing plant community. He formulated much of his thinking on this topic during his project with General Motors in the early 1940s, well before the Toyota Production System came on the scene. One of Drucker’s biggest disappointments was his apparent failure to convince US automakers to use these concepts, while Japanese companies seemed to pick them up and run.

Part of the critical change component – strong leadership – involves empowering people at the point of work. Be sure any improvement opportunities include that consideration.

© 2016 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved.


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