When I recently attended a Lean Conference, one of the most crowded workshops was titled, “Are Middle Managers the Problem?” Speaking with the attendees, I heard many variations on the same story, “How do I convince my manager/coworkers/employees to go Lean?”
It can be deeply frustrating when you are trying to implement Lean and are faced with tight budget, struggles with unions, resistant coworkers and non-supportive managers. To address these challenges, we have written and produced a series titled, “Barriers to Lean”.
What is a Barrier to Lean? It can be as straightforward as a resistant employee or maybe as complex as conflicting departmental goals. Barriers to change occur whenever there are reform efforts, simply as part of changing the status quo, you are going to encounter resistance. What determines your success is how you overcome these barriers.
Organizations can become deeply invested in maintaining old ways of operation or worse yet, stuck in the same mode of thinking. Breaking people out of these constraints requires a mix of interpersonal skills, careful planning and a healthy dose of fresh training and education.