It takes Leadership and Discipline to build a great company. And it takes Leadership and Discipline to sustain the Lean journey.
Back in 2oo6 at the AME Conference in Dallas, I heard a keynote presentation by Jim Collins, bestselling author of “Good to Great”. I can’t do justice here to what was an outstanding presentation, but you can guess the main thrust of what he said: “Of all the things that helped companies go from being good performers to outstanding performers, Leadership and Discipline are by far the most important”.
Previous blog posts here have talked about Leadership, so let’s have a look now at Discipline, and why it’s a critical element in sustaining the Lean journey.
Put simply, Discipline is about doing a small number of important things consistently – day in, day out, week after week, month after month, year after year. So you can immediately spot why most organisations and most people never achieve greatness.
Let’s take an example that will immediately be familiar to most manufacturers – Workplace Organisation.
Workplace Organisation is most commonly known as “5S”. Sometimes – particularly in the automotive industry – it’s referred to as 5C. Far less common but the one that I prefer is the acronym “CANDO”. The “D” stands for Discipline, so you can see where I’m going with this. Most organisations don’t find it too difficult to complete the first three steps of CANDO- Clear out unwanted items, Arrange everything in the right place, then ensure Neatness. The next two steps are far harder – Discipline and Ongoing improvement. It’s often said that CANDO is above all a test of management discipline. That’s why the Japanese regard it as probably the first and most important building block of Lean. Put simply, if managers and leaders don’t have the discipline to sustain CANDO then they probably don’t have the discipline to sustain any worthwhile improvement journey. More importantly, they don’t have the discipline to create a great business.
The tools and techniques needed for sustaining CANDO are well known – agreeing and setting the standard, implementing checklists, standard operating procedures, measures and audits, etc, etc. Where most organisations fall down here is that they don’t build it into the day job and make it a habit.
So here are some ways of achieving the necessary Discipline:
- Ensure that Line Managers / Team Leaders are held personally accountable for maintaining the agreed standard in their area
- Train and encourage them to ensure that every employee works to that standard every day
- Check and record performance hourly or daily
- Audit performance weekly or monthly
- Apply PDCA to find and address the root causes of non-conformance
In future blog posts we’ll look in more detail at Discipline and “how to build Lean in” – as always, your comments and experiences are very welcome!