Want Things to Change? Then Give the Experiences.

This is my final post about things that really hit home with me during my second go ’round at the Lean Experience class that Jamie Flinchbaugh and Andy Carlino, from the Lean Learning Center, put on at my company.

When discussing lean principles you naturally start to talk about behaviors to look for to understand if that principle is being followed or not.  The only way to get people to change their behavior is to change their beliefs (nothing religious just from a lean standpoint).  Such as a belief to manage by going and directly observing the work being done and not manage from behind a desk reading reports.

This makes a lot of sense.  The part that has always been missing is, how do we get them to change their beliefs?

That answer, as Jamie and Andy explained, is to give them the experiences demonstrating the new behaviors/beliefs and let them experience the difference.  In fact, the whole Lean Experience class is designed to set up and give experiences demonstrating the lean principles.  It starts the change process.  One experience does not change the belief.

While giving experiences may seem straight forward, it isn’t easy to remember to do.  This hit home because recently I completely abandoned this while trying to implement a kanban system for a component we use.  I have had multiple experiences of implementing a kanban, so I had the belief this was the right thing to do for our situation.  But some of our internal suppliers did not.  I got to a point of frustration that I told them to just do it and listen to me.  Well, I think we all know how that worked………not so good.  One of my partners kept building the kanban and did some compromising with the internal supplier and got the kanban up and running.  Over the last 2 months, a 20 year old problem that happened several times daily has only happened one time.  The internal supplier is ecstatic that we aren’t calling him all the time now begging for the components.

This is the internal supplier’s first experience he has been given with a kanban system.  He has now changed his view on it, but still isn’t all the way sold.  This is where we have to continue to give positive experiences to continue to change his beliefs.

As we continue to spread lean to more and more people, we have to remember to ask, “How do we give them the positive experiences?”

This concludes my reflections from the Lean Experience class.  Here are the links to all the reflections:

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Posted on December 10, 2010, in Development, Learning and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I admire your humility, Matt – admitting your frustration and how you dealt with it – a critical lean leader trait.

    I certainly agree with the whole concept of giving experiences. For me the hardest part of this is for the learners (and sometimes coaches) to have patience. The irony of this that lean, with PDCA and learning as part of its core, will try peoples’ patience and this actually can work against the grain of a lean transformation. What I mean is that some people get frustrated with trying and trying over and over again, investing a lot of time when they really want the quick fix, the silver bullet. If this frustration reaches a critical mass then the lean transformation is in trouble. Perhaps this is one reason that the majority of transformations fail. The next challenge then is how do we foster that patience and break through the wall without the transformation collapsing?

    • You pose a great question about fostering patience and breaking through. I believe one way is to understand how close the wall is to collapsing for each individual case. If it isn’t even close, then we can push harder. If the wall is close to collapsing, then we have to ease up on the pushing and do more compromising. Give a positive experience, even if it is a smaller positive experience and not the full experience we want to give. Then we can build on that. A quick result helps allow us more rope to teach/coach more in the next situation.

      I know I have a hard time with doing this sometimes. It isn’t easy but it has worked for me.

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