We’ve been implementing Lean business practice and Continuous Improvement over several years at Character Cabinets and Stone with Character, collectively known as the Character Group. There are a lot of different layers to this work. I thought you might be interested to have a look at a few of the major things we tried to put in place around leadership and culture with a Lean focus.
The Role of The Manager
A Manager at Character Group is the person who helps to set the standard. It is their job to ensure that the standard is workable and that people are trained to do their job. They are helping people to set those standards and sustain them by putting rules in place that can help the company produce a consistent result.
Breaking The Standard
The team leader, and then ultimately their team and the engagement they have with them, are there to break that standard. There are rule makers and rule breakers. In terms of Continuous Improvement it is the breaker who says to the manager, “Hey, our team’s found a better way to do this. Let’s break that standard and make it better.” Management says, “Okay, yes. I’ll support you. Make the standard better. Alright, that’s now our standard.” That’s a continuous cycle.
Empower & Encourage
At Character Group, we’ve empowered people. We’ve given them tools and techniques, and we’ve trained them to use those tools and techniques. People are encouraged to develop, to suggest ideas and to see their ideas implemented. They are always acknowledged as the person who came up with the idea. We’re just there to support them, and they are the ones who add the value.
In this way, those who do the work feel like they’re valued. They feel supported by standards. They know that when they arrive at the start of the day, they’re going to achieve their goals by the end of the day. There’s a sense of satisfaction for them every day.
No Road Blocks
It doesn’t matter what tasks people have; there’s a sense of satisfaction for having achieved everything they set out to do. There’s no roadblocks or machinery constantly breaking down on them. No one is telling them to stop one job and start another one because of conflicting constraints, overly demanding customers, or anything like that.
People need consistency, and they need a sense of achievement every day to feel satisfied in what they’re doing. That’s what Lean and Continuous Improvement look like at Character Group. We’ve involved our people every step of the way, and we’ve created a happy, productive environment.