Tailoring the Message
I was paging through some comments and found this one about a post I wrote a while back. I was going to reply directly to the comment, but my response tended longer than the comment section and I thought I’d post it by itself. The intent of my original post was how to work in Lean with people who were against it. The response was that I might have been asking the wrong question in asking how to sell Lean.
I totally agree with the idea that everyone wants higher quality, lower costs and better delivery. However, the willingness or individuals and groups to try ‘new’ ways to get there is at the very heart of why there are thousands of lean resources out there. It’s like saying lots of people would like to climb Mt. Everest, but not many are willing to put in the time, money and physical effort to prepare for the climb. The disconnect between an interest in the destination and a willingness to undertake the journey is often huge. That’s before even getting in to the many corporate cultures that smother or punish the different, regardless of results.
The other aspect of this that I have found over time is that not all areas are interested in the same benefits, at least on the early part of a Lean journey. The point that excites the plant manager may not have the same weight with a front line supervisor. The benefits that an accountant might find would be mostly irrelevant to the team members on the shop floor. Or, put a slightly different way, what group of people are directly affected by reduced lead times through the plant or reduced inventory? Those things as stand-alone benefits don’t really provide much interest for many people. The side effects of these like the reduced inventory allowing the existing inventory to be better organized and easier to store/find/retrieve are what a lot of people will actually feel. Just as the solution has to be right for the problem, the message has to be tailored to the audience.
The comment did make me reflect on the overall delivery of my message. It is a great point to make sure that the overall business value of the effort is clear. I’m sure that I can lose sight of bringing concepts back to the big picture when I’m working on some of the finer points.
I do appreciate the opportunity for dialog that this outlet creates. Hopefully we can all continue to help each other think more deeply or more broadly.