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Karen Martin

Karen Martin: Managers must walk the talk and not blame when someone falls behind or deviates from standard work

By Karen Martin, - Last updated: Saturday, April 6, 2013 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

I work nearly 100% in office environments and the challenges are many for introducing Lean practices into a setting that is green with both measurement and continuous improvement, lacks standard work, and is often disconnected from external customers. Fear around being measured and seeking out variation is nearly always tied to experience with blame.

I spend a significant amount of time with both front-line staff and leadership to shift the environment from a problem-hiding to a problem-surfacing one. Putting visuals in place is particularly challenging, but it can and must be done. Two adages are key: The proof’s in the pudding, and actions speak louder than words. If supervisors and managers say they won’t blame, and then do the moment someone falls behind a target metric or deviates from standard work, the entire workforce will mistrust the “new system” and it’ll take some concerted corrective action to get the environment back on track. Those who don’t spend a lot of time on shifting mindsets and building problem solving capabilities and, instead, jump straight to process design will likely have a tough go at it. But this is true in any setting, yes?

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