Successful process improvement needs to be cultural, and urgency must be at the cultural heart. Whether or not your entire team is driven towards process improvement will decide if your organizational change will succeed or fail.
Here’s how to build that culture of urgency:
1) Focus on Financials
Staff usually have no idea how profitable (or unprofitable) the business is. Chances are that they think you sleep on a pile of money.
Open up about the business. Tell them what areas are losing money and why. Make them understand how competitive your manufacturing environment really is.
Engaging your team is more than pep talks. It’s teaching them about the company they work for. They’re invested financially too – they pay the mortgage with this job. Trust them enough to tell them why process improvement is so important, and they’ll feel the urgency to help.
2) Identify Waste as a Group
Being there to listen to someone who tells you about waste is effective. But providing the space for people to assemble and identify waste together is powerful.
Create groups by department. Ask people to spend some time beforehand thinking about waste to prepare (give them this time, don’t ask them to make it magically appear).
Conduct the meeting roundtable style with the bosses keeping their mouths shut. It’s the employees’ turn. Give them the chance to talk and they will, and what they say will save you money.
3) Inspire Them
Process improvement needs everyone’s engagement, but it needs your vision. Urgency comes from being inspired, and inspiration comes from leadership. It’s a common theme in process improvement and Lean that leading change can’t be done from the corner office; it happens on the shop floor.
Inspiration is more realistic than idealistic. Set actionable goals with timelines and accountability. Get everyone involved and move towards them together. Stay transparent about what parts of the plan are working what needs to be improved.
Make Sure Urgency is Productive
There are 2 kinds of urgency. There’s the running place-to-place, always-busy-never-focused, working-harder-but-not-smarter urgency. It’s unproductive, even dangerous, especially in a manufacturing environment.
Productive urgency is being driven not to work faster, but smarter. It’s following the processes you’re used to, but opening your eyes to the waste that’s in plain sight.
Creating a wide-scale sense of urgency can be a heavy lift in a process-based industry like manufacturing. With the process switch on, sometimes brains switch off. We need processes for efficiency and uniformity, but they can pave the way for complacency.
Urgency goes hand-in-hand with a sense of ownership. Take the steps to involve your team today, and let them in on the impact their productivity is making on the business. When your team knows how much their contributions matter, a sense of urgency will naturally become a part of your business’ culture.
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.”
— Leonardo da Vinci