Control What You Can Control
Have you ever gotten frustrated that another department was pushing product to you when you weren’t ready for it or sending defects to your area or your manager was unclear about the priorities?
It is even more frustrating when you start to understand lean thinking and concepts. We want everyone to see the world through the lean lens we have developed. If the everyone else would see it that way then we could make a real difference. If they don’t we feel beaten down, like we may never get better. The waste we see can become extremely frustrating. As lean thinkers, we may even want to give up because others aren’t seeing the big picture.
This is a common problem I have seen with people that have truly bought into lean thinking in an organization that has not. I have had that those feelings and thoughts myself. This is when we have to remember to control what we can control. We have to remember there is no end to a lean transformation there is only the next step.
If we concentrate on making our work better and applying the thinking to our own world, we can slowly start to make a difference. For instance, if you are frustrated that your boss isn’t clear about the priorities, take what you think are the priorities and write them on a whiteboard with a header of “Top Priorities for the Week of XXX”. Make the board visible. Let your boss see it. That way a discussion can be had if necessary. If he asks why you are working on something point to the board and say these are what you consider the top priorities. Eventually, your boss will start to use the board too.
I have seen managers in non-lean organizations use lean thinking to just their little world. As they did, their performance increased and they got increased responsibilities. This led to their reach of lean thinking expanding to others. The more that got exposed the better things were getting.
Lets be clear. It still was a slow process over a few years, but these managers had a clear understanding of what they could control and they controlled it using lean thinking.
Control what you can control. Lead by example. Understand others may never come along the journey. None of this is easy especially when you buy-in to the lean thinking, but it will help keep your sanity.