When you redesigned the company’s ordering process, website, or forms, did you involve your customers? How about your customer service team?
The last time you did a setup reduction on your flexo-folder-gluer or rotary, did you involve the forklift or prepress teams?
How about your design request queue? Has the sales team had any input?
Heavily rooted in the foundation of a sustainable lean journey is the purposeful involvement of all stakeholders. Involvement takes many forms. It can mean:
Asking various people for help discovering the root cause when a problem happens, instead of thinking you have all the answers.
“More often than not, it’s the people doing the work who have the best ideas for improvement. All you need to do is ask them.”
Fostering a no-blame environment by looking to the process, not the individual, when defects occur.
Ensuring you have identified all affected parties when making a change, then giving everyone, or at least every team, an opportunity to participate in a meaningful capacity.
Asking good questions when doing your Gemba Walks—during both prosperous and challenging times. Questions such as: “If you could wave a magic wand and fix one thing in our company right now, what would it be?” Then follow that up with, “If it were up to you to fix this, how would you do it?”
It can be easy to get caught in the trap of thinking you have the best answer—especially if you’re the manager, because isn’t that why you’re a manager in the first place? But more often than not, it’s the people doing the work who have the best ideas for improvement. All you need to do is ask them.
Leadership and management play the biggest role in making people feel like they’re being heard. Involving stakeholders doesn’t mean just inviting people to a meeting; true lean involvement is encouraging them to participate, listening to their ideas, asking great questions, and following up on ideas.
Whenever you are creating or changing a process, it is imperative that you seek the people who are on the front lines and doing the value-added work. I’ve been involved in a number of Kaizen events where an amazing solution or idea came from someone who, under nonlean circumstances, may not have even been included on the team.
Everyone, from the CEO to the person you just hired to tail a flexo, has the ability to make great change in your company. Do you have the environment and culture to bring the ideas to the surface? If not, it’s time to start engaging your stakeholders.
Be continuous improvement!
Director of Operations