Are you one of the many people who have studied Lean or other philosophies and been concerned about this for a long time? You may have learned about it at school and taken courses, become Black belt certified and even worked on several improvement projects? Nevertheless, you have probably also heard that there are at best a handful of companies in the West that have succeeded in introducing Lean to a significant extent. Even if you have experienced good results with some initiatives in your own organization, you may still reflect on the fact that great potential remains?
Knowledge is not the same as competence. A key element of the competence is skills in how we work, but we do not get this from reading books, listening to lectures or going up to exams, we must go out to the organization and practice the tasks. Only when we have acquired skills can we say to some extent that we have competence, although this also entails some good attitudes and talents. The path from knowledge to competence goes through training, and training is done by following good processes. Good ways of working in an improvement process are most important for managers and middle managers, but in their own development they will quickly discover that they must ensure that employees have the same opportunity to train as themselves, if the organization is to be developed on a broad basis.
We hear about competence lift and competence enhancement, where requirements for a master’s degree or course for the employees are to raise competence. The competence boost is measured in how much money has been spent on consultants and trainers, or how many hours the employees have invested by being on courses. This can quickly become sleeping pillows for many managers and people in responsible positions. It is the people at the job who represent the competence, and their competence enhancement consists of good management, good processes and active "on the job training". Not in certificates, credits or continuing education courses.
A swallow does not make a summer, it says, and a measure or the use of an improvement method does not give us a new culture. Boards and meetings with brainstorming and a focus on the removal of waste will also not significantly contribute to changing ways of working or improving the efficiency of the organization.
Also, management is processes. Despite all the knowledge, we often lack good processes for developing behavior and changing culture. Therefore, it is difficult to develop as a manager or improvement agent or achieve changes in the culture. Building expertise requires a process to train on, and then improve the process continuously as we increase our competence. Only through active training on good processes can we develop our working methods and achieve results through continuous improvements.