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  • Bill Greider

Make LEAN Like the Hokey Pokey


Lucky for most people they have not had the misfortune of watching me dance. Not a pretty sight. Still trying to figure out why my wife Gloria didn't run off 35+ years ago after she saw me spasm for the first time on a dance floor. Before our eldest's wedding a few years ago, she signed us up for ballroom dance lessons. Unmitigated disaster. The good news was she had the sense to wear steel-toe boots to the lessons. The bad news was she didn't wear the boots to the wedding. Why on God's green earth would I subject poor Gloria and any other on-looker to my impression of being shot with a stun gun?


Because it is fun. Exactly the same reason why I laugh alone most of the time at my attempts at humor. "Nobody else thinks you're funny Dad." Said all 3 of my kids plus my wife on numerous occasions. In the 12 items or less checkout aisle at the supermarket, for example, I always ask if the box of macaroni counts as one item or 455? Because it's fun.


So interesting study. There are people that I know and work with that do dozens and dozens of A3s. They ALWAYS have an active improvement on the A3 board. They make an improvement, then improve the same process over and over. If you pay close attention, you will see that they are "doing LEAN" simply because they find it really fun. If you think about it, the things that we are really good at are just that....FUN! Why would anyone want to dress in a striped shirt and go get yelled at by thousands and thousand of people as a college football official? Because I'm pretty good at it (depends on who you ask), and because of that, well, it's wicked fun.


What if a few people weren't carrying the continuous improvement load? You know. The Lean Leader. The Lean Department. The Continuous Improvement Team. The Supervisors. What if it was everyone? What if the responsibility to make processes faster rests with the people who actually do the work? "Respect for people" means understanding that the person most qualified to improve their jobs are the people who do the work. This is easily accomplished using a well thought out A3 process (not just the form), with the additional benefit of the responsibility of teaching others not only what they've learned, but the thinking behind it.


Organizations where everyone is on the dance floor making improvements have high morale, low turnover and are VERY difficult to compete against. The tough part is in the beginning when you are working to convince more and more people to give it a go (versus the boys at the junior high dance glued to the wall). In the beginning it's OK to dance like me and Elaine Benes, Teach lean like it's the hokey pokey ("put your left foot in, take your left foot out....").


Like the hokey pokey, EVERYONE can do A3. Anyone can complicate things. The challenge (and real genius) is to make it simple and fun!

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