Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Opportunity Calls

As I pulled into the company parking lot, a steady rain fell from the morning clouds. I made my way down the hall, turned on the office lights and fired up my laptop. After a quick email scan, it’s time for my gemba walk. Before I could make it out the door, my phone rings. It was the company VP of Operations and he was not happy.

Apparently, the President of the company went out on the shop floor late yesterday afternoon and found a couple of issues related to our lean efforts. The President naturally passed these concerns to the VP and now to me.

“Mike, we have some problems.” said the VP with a serious tone. I quickly answered.” That’s great news!”


Mark Graban said...

Does your leadership subscribe to the notion of "embracing your problems"?? How did he respond to you saying "great"??

Mike Wroblewski said...

Good questions Mark. This event occurred at one of my client sites. We are progressing on a lean transformation journey however we still look at results over process.

The notion of embracing problems is being developed slowly. The concept is understood but not taken to heart yet. Of course, this is one of my main challenges to help develop.

His initial response was "What?" not expecting my answer. I explained that it's great for two reasons, that our President is active in Gemba and pointing out problems. Senior Leaders should have an active role in the lean transformation, not just the verbal buy-in method. And problems should not be hidden so we can work on them.

Once stated, the VP instantly agreed. Then we dug deeper into the problems to seek a greater understanding before rushing to some quick fix.

This became a great lean leadership example.

Mike Gardner said...

I think that's great, too. Unfortunately, it does not happen very often. The more common "problems" found by senior managers have to do with the fact that they do not understand what is taking place during a lean transformation and they notice something is different, and therefore has become a problem.