Lean leadership

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  • The leaders job is to develop people by getting them to take initiative to solve problems and improve their job.
  • Three steps are commonly practiced – go see, ask why and show respect. Senior managers spend time at the front lines to observe first hand what the problems/opportunities are; ask why to reach mutual understanding and agreement; and show respect which builds trust. Wikipedia
  • Leaders also use questioning to prompt people to think more deeply about issues, knowing that the process of discovery and resolution will result in greater learning for the individual – “follow me and we’ll work this out together”.

“The Toyota Way” by Jeffrey Liker, identified 14 principles behind Toyota’s business philosophy:

  1. Base your management on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals.
  2. Create continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface.
  3. Use “pull” systems to avoid overproduction.
  4. Level out the workload (work like the tortoise, not the hare).
  5. Build a culture of stopping to fix problems, to get quality right the first time.
  6. Standardized tasks are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment.
  7. Use visual control so no problems are hidden.
  8. Use only reliable, thoroughly tested technology that serves your people and process.
  9. Grow leaders who thoroughly understand the work, live the philosophy, and teach it to others.
  10. Develop exceptional people and teams who follow your company’s philosophy.
  11. Respect your extended network of partners and suppliers by challenging them and helping them improve.
  12. Go see for yourself to thoroughly understand the situation.
  13. Make decisions slowly by consensus, thoroughly considering all options; implement decisions rapidly.
  14. Become a learning organization through relentless reflection and continuous improvement.