Leader Standard Work vs. Herding Cats
Do you run your day or does your day run you?
Chances are, if your job description includes the terms manager, supervisor, executive officer or coordinator, then you just might sometimes feel like your business is running you. At least I did. Not only did I feel like my business was running me, but Monday morning seemed to turn into Friday afternoon at the blink of an eye!
Unplanned 2 or 3 hour meetings I would get dragged into, hundreds of e-mails that I was either cc'd or bcc'd on, firefighting, hours spent on the phone with customers, salespeople or vendors and unexpected travel are just a few examples of just how out of control life can be. Sometimes I felt like I was herding cats. Does this sound familiar to anyone?
Contrast this with what I consider the "value-added work" of leaders.....develop people and develop more leaders. We all agree that the gas pedal (and the brake) of a lean journey is the involvement and engagement of the management team. Tough to do when you're busy herding cats.
The concept of leader standard work shouldn't be overthought. It doesn't need to be complicated. It's really about deliberately and intentionally building some routines into your work week where there may be none. I'm not saying you need to script every minute of your week, but can we start with 25% of routine time and 75% ad hoc, and improve from there?
My leader standard work was a laminated sheet of paper with a list of daily and weekly tasks I wanted to accomplish. Daily tasks would be a GEMBA walk at 8:30 am daily. I would "go and see" 3 A3 leaders every day to find out how they were doing and if they needed my help (that meant I saw 720 A3 leaders over the course of the year). Weekly tasks would be huddles I would attend, a senior leadership meeting, A3 closings, I'd sit in on Group Leader and Team Leader meetings once a week. Speaking of meetings, in order to do more value-added work, I needed to limit any meeting to 30 minutes or less, and most needed to be standing up.
The best part of my leader standard work, once built, was that I could hand it off to others when I was travelling or on vacation.
People need to see calm, cool and collected from their leaders. They need to see our routines. If we demonstrate chaos, there will be chaos. If we demonstrate firefighting, there will be firefighting. If we demonstrate mastery of our domain, so will they!
I'd be happy to send you the template I use, just drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.