Lean spends a great amount of time emphasizing the importance of the People. Whether this be through mutual respect, humility, Systems thinking, equality among ranks, Coaching, Teamwork, Active Listening, Conflict management… the list truly goes on and on. This is exactly why Toyota made “Respect for people” as one of two pillars supporting their foundation.
The other pillar is Continuous Improvement. As Jeff Liker illustrates in his book The Toyota Way, Continuous Improvement is an embodiment of three areas:
- Challenge – A long term vision that is designed to tackle challenges in a creative and valiant way that shows us what our goals are.
- Kaizen – Constant improvement in the operations of a business through change and adaptation.
- Genchi Genbutsu – “Go to the source to find the facts to make correct decisions and build consensus and trust.”
Continuous Improvement is not just a two word title. It is a change in mindset. It’s a sense of purpose, to strive for something greater and actually achieve it. Here at Michigan Tech we really emphasize this pillar. I mean, we are the Office of Continuous Improvement. We focus on utilizing the people we have, and their bodies of knowledge to propel the university higher. Our model of Continuous Improvement circulates around learning to improve, and we do this by:
- Going to the Gemba – where work is done
- Collecting metrics
- Implementing the Scientific Method – Kata, PDCA, A3
- Understanding the customers point of view so that we can add value
- and Practicing a no blame environment – It’s the process not the people
The goal of our office at Michigan Tech is to help all areas of campus to reduce waste, and add value so that the University can function at the optimum level and focus on our customers, the students. We could not implement this second pillar of lean, if it weren’t for the first, the people. The people at this university, lean practitioners or non, are what drives our campus up.
The people here at Michigan Tech are almost always willing to join forces and tackle waste so that we can continuously improve and thrive.