Help Wanted – Inquire Within (before you get drafted)

I didn’t make my timely post for this discussion, I suppose I’ll blame it on the tumultuous events of Florence wreaking havoc in the East and continuing to leave her wrath in the form of floods and washed out roads.

What has been weighing heavy on my mind is my last post where I talked about lean thinkers needing to be innovators and strategic thinkers.  I honestly believe that in my organization we lack the experience around to see the need for the boundary to be pushed.  No blame, if given a job to perform most will do so to the utmost of their capability and capacity.  Here is the dilemma, not everyone in the position to lead at the time has the capacity to desire progression and leverage lean thinking to assist.  In a chaotic and unsteady environment it is easy to become a hero and dawn your cape to save the day.  Why wouldn’t you?  Nobody wants people in their organization to struggle so if you can provide continuous immediate resolution you will, and perhaps should.  I’ve done it numerous times, when I was gaining experience and knowledge in my profession.  The cost of promptly stopping the bleeding is we don’t take the opportunity to assess the cause of the impalement.  If you are always giving immediate answers and alleviating the pressures of those around, you fail to grasp the genesis of the accelerator.

Change is something we unconsciously and consciously resist, especially when it appears that we either may reveal a weakness or risk irrelevance.  Luckily for the lean community this is the exact opposite outcome, sort of.  We want to expose weakness or better ways of doing business but not to the peril and irrelevance of anyone.  Defining value from a customer perspective has been my main goal, then mapping the value stream.  I believe I have accomplished both, the latter needs more refinement and quantitative analysis to help others see where we are and where we can go.  However I unquestionably know what our main value to the customer is and how we should be providing it better.  Trends are showing that our customer demand is increasing at a dramatic, yet predictable rate.  The mass production answer that we immediately see rise to the top is “hire more people and make them do more.”

What lean teaches us is that the knee jerk reactionary answer to large batch solutions is definitely the wrong approach.  Work needs to be standardized, work needs to be formalized.  Lead times and takt time need to be calculated, we need to know what our nominal WIP needs to be.  All of these outcome will help in formulating a scientific response.  As we have read, doing everything right doesn’t mean we are doing the right thing.  But don’t forget about people.  Local optima is the change we are consciously rejecting, if it is working for you and this is how it is done why question it, right?  WRONG!

I’ve looked around my organization and find that our staff is mighty, in numbers and aptitude.  I find disappointment in value providers because they aren’t leveraging their potential and I find bitterness and anger in others who are over utilized and restricted.  The answer has been looking at us for years, break down the vertical silos and let others see and participate in the way we as an organization create value for our customer.

Nobody cares about Superman, we don’t need a superhero.  We need a team of teams.  My ultimate goal and one in which I believe I am close to starting is having everyone work together to learn the entire value stream and be able to provide value where needed, not where told.

I have proposed a dramatic and life changing way of seeing how we provide value to our customer.  It goes against everything that our organization has done since inception but I ultimately know it is the path we need to choose.  There are some discussions to be had about my direction and I will surely post to the progress.  If you don’t try you will never know and always question yourself.

Being inquisitive is the fuel to grow.

Never questioning is the shackle and all you need to know.

Author: TheLeanArmy

I am a student of Lean, on the journey and most challenging opportunity to introduce and implement Lean principles and thinking in my portion of the United States Army. * Completely unofficial and all information is my sole opinion, not endorsed by the government and for personal use.

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