In my previous post I wondered about wasted human potential within a pretend Lean system. Today, I want to share a second hand story of the exact opposite.
I have a colleague that has had the opportunity to be a part of a pretty successful Lean journey. As I talked to him, I became less interested in the mechanics of the change to Lean and more interested in his personal story. The things I’ve heard from him reaffirmed my faith in the Lean process and reminded me why I am so passionate about it in the first place.
At first glance, this guy normally appears to be a bit on the grumpy side. But, when talking about the effect of Lean on him and his workplace, his face literally lights up like a kid at Christmas. When he tells his story, he talks about how the process changed him from being frustrated to loving his job. And about how much fun he had coming up with new ideas to solve problems. He spoke with optimism, not despair, about how to continue finding the waste and savings opportunities after the initial activity took care of the “low hanging fruit” we all talk about. I heard his story about being involved in his first kaizen report out and having Jamie Flinchbaugh in the room. He told of being initially intimidated by Jamie, but then being excited about sharing what he had done and learning from what Jamie said. He spoke of the challenge and commitment involved and of the lasting impacts that being a part of the whole process made on him.
It was in this conversation that the light bulb flickered back on for me. I enjoy being a part of making a business more successful and solving complex problems. But, the real deep down motivator for me is that someone may be able tell a story of the impact that a Lean journey has had on them and that I may have had a part in that process. At our best, we aren’t just transforming processes or balance sheets. We are transforming people. I’d like to thank my new colleague for reminding me of that.
(For the record, I have no connection to Jamie Flinchbaugh or LLC other than owning his book. I was just really impressed by his role in this story.)