“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do.”
– Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
If you want to lose 30 pounds, you know you won’t do it in a day. Or a month. You have to make it a project.
And if you want to keep that 30 pounds off, you know that you can’t declare victory after a year and then hit the Taco Bell drive-thru. It’s a commitment, and it has to be more than a project. You have to make it a lifestyle choice.
That’s Process Improvement. If you treat it like a project, you’ll lose the 30 pounds (or start to see more profit on your bottom line), and then it will fall apart. Process Improvement is a shift in your professional lifestyle.
Lead by Example
Every lifestyle change, business or personal, starts with you. Change your context all you want, but if you don’t focus on your behaviour then the change is DOA.
What’s your management style? If questions like that make you defensive, you’ll need to park that impulse for the sake of your company.
If you commit to Process Improvement alone, you’ll fail. You need your team.
As an extension to leading by example, lead to support. You hired them (hopefully) to be more than process followers. To succeed, some of them need to be process interrogators, disruptors, and re-inventors.
A Lean Leader doesn’t have all the ideas. Mostly, he or she has curated the ideas of others to align with the business’s overarching goals.
Create a culture of openness and listening, where your team’s ideas matter and you prove that through action. Changing a business lifestyle requires a cultural shift. It will fail if your team isn’t on board, and your team won’t be on board if you don’t support them.
Process Improvement is about numbers. It’s about finding numbers wasted, tweaking to fix that, and adding numbers to the bottom line—and into the bank account.
Lean Leaders follow the numbers. Gut feelings can be a good red flag, but don’t make decisions on them.
You’ll probably need to build a way of evaluating the metrics so you can better follow the numbers. This will feel like a waste of time, but make it a priority. You can’t make informed decisions without data, and you can’t be confident enough to inspire others without informed decisions.
If you’ve already failed a crash diet (or five), you know how hard it is to get back “on the wagon” after you give up. In the context of your leadership, you’re dealing with more than a few pounds—your reputation as a leader is on the line. So, don’t base decisions on what will make you look good for now. Make the choice to become the Lean Leader you want to be, and stick with it.