As I continue to work with various companies across the United States a common question I'm getting/hearing from clients is - "What should our leaders be doing"? To me, they seem to be looking for "tangible actions" to tell their leaders to do in this Lean environment they are trying very hard to create. So many want a magic wand to be waved and the transformation happens quickly. I wish it was that easy. As many of you know this isn't the case and Lean has to be "lived", "felt", "experienced", "seen", and backed up by high level leadership walking the walk. When I was at Toyota the Japanese trainers would commonly use the word "behave". To me that sounded like school, but when you think deeply about an action it can be interpreted as a behavior.
So to help answer that commonly asked question above I would like to introduce an acronym I would like to coin as a quick reminder that ALL leaders should "live".
Unfortunately on this blog I cant insert the little 2 that should go above the GTS, so I will spell it out for you. GTS "squared". What does this stand for you may ask? Well let's remember it and start to spread it, its essential if you are trying to transform your company with Lean thinking.
Here is the behavior :)
Go to See & Grasp the Situation! GTS "squared"!!
A leader must always GO TO SEE or Go to the Source, this is a habit that is hard to create. We tend to rely on assumptions due to our experience or what someone has told us based on "tribal knowledge". My Japanese training would often say - Please--Go Looking!! Some knew minimal English but we knew what they meant :). When I do my Gemba (at the work process) days with clients they often cant answer some of the questions I ask because they don't have the facts, just assumptions unfortunately. Only until we Go To See, we often cant get to the true.
Once we GO SEE, we must then Grasp the Situation, which is the 2nd half of the equation! How do you grasp the situation? Well my experience tells me by asking the right questions! In my courses I give out about 200 questions leaders should be asking. We will just begin with the 2 most essential questions a company and their leaders (at every level) should be asking.
What should be happening? (Ideal State or Standard)
What is currently happening? (current state)
These 2 questions should always be quantified! For example:
Productivity should be at 95%
Current productivity is at 85%
This will give us a 10% gap that we will begin to breakdown and ask further questions!
From my experience as a consultant of 13 years now, I find that MOST companies I work with (even ones that you may think should know) can't answer those 2 questions because they do not track the information or they just make an assumption. To me, because I was raised with this thinking (at Toyota), they are simple questions; its just NOT easy to do or to develop this behavior in our leaders. Some may ask why not? Mostly because they are running around with a fire hose on their backs! This type of problem solving is weak at best, and surely not repeatable for long term sustainability. This is NOT the behavior we want but unfortunately its an easy way to do business and inherently learned from above. Invest in your people, make your leadership accountable for GTS "squared". It works, try it!
Until next time