As a federal employee who has both managed people and is currently certified by the Air Force as a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, I found this article very interesting: A Total Shift in Mindset
How often do we instinctively blame people instead of find out what broke down in the process leading to the mistake attributed to them? As a former supervisor, I totally grasp the truth that there are poor performers in need of disciplinary actions at times. We as managers should take action when people truly perform poorly. However before assigning blame, using Lean thinking we should ask ourselves the following questions (to start):
- What is the process? Do all stakeholders in the process know the process? How is it defined?
- Where did the process break down? How do we know the process is breaking down?
- Where did communication gaps occur and feedback loops not exist?
- How does anyone working in the process (to include management overseeing the process) know on a continual basis that the process is working or not working?
- How can we as an organization learn from mistakes to improve future performance?
- How can we as an organization create a climate where “red is welcome” instead of feared? Toyota gets suspicious if they see managers report status of processes as continuously green. They want people to show process status as “yellow” or “red” because that means that opportunities for continuous improvement exist.
If more federal managers thought along these principles and acted accordingly, process improvement would become the cultural norm and organizations would become learning organizations instead of compliance organizations.