10 Management Traps to Avoid – while launching Lean

Vermin Trap, Wednesfield, 1867-1900, BIMW25

Image by Black Country Museums via Flickr

Steve Minter, Editor in Chief at Industry Week magazine, recently published 10 Management Traps and How to Avoid Them.    The following are the 10 traps with some comments about how this relates to Lean Manufacturing:

  1. Failing to nip it in the bud You will have many opportunities to nip it in the bud while launching lean.  Kaizens and other lean activities will lead to new best practices and Standard Operating Procedures.  Your team may not follow the new best practices for a variety of reasons.  You will need to monitor progress and address the issues quickly.  The issue will only get worse and will become harder to address if you procrastinate on this one.
  2. Squelching the flow of bad news – The concept of shooting the messenger seems pretty self-explanatory.  Yet many subordinates do not feel safe delivering bad news.  Take a close look at how you encourage or discourage your team to deliver the truth.  You will not truly have a learning culture, a cornerstone of true Lean companies, if your team fears getting in trouble for mistakes or fears delivering bad news.
  3. Doing drop down work – many managers feel more comfortable doing the work they did prior to getting promoted.   So who is doing your job if you are doing your subordinates?  You are probably out of your comfort zone anyway if you are launching Lean.  Be careful not to slip into tasks just because they are familiar.
  4. Spending too much time on a problem child – everyone will need coaching and development as you embark on the Lean journey.  Neglecting your top performers to spend more time with poor performers is counter-productive.  Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman teach in First Break All the Rules that you and your stars will both benefit from spending most of your time with them.  You will need to make some touch decisions if your problem child cannot get up to speed with a reasonable amount of coaching.
  5. Delaying decisions until it’s too late – You’ll never have all the information you’d like to make some decisions.  I think it was Colin Powell who said that he makes decisions with 75% of the information as a rule of thumb.  It will be too late if you wait for too much information.  The very nature of Lean and the Deming Cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act) calls for testing your improvements and making adjustments as needed.  While you want to do the best you can, changes and follow up adjustments to improvement ideas are par for the course.
  6. Letting employee enthusiasm fizzle – Implementation of true process improvements will be an exciting time if done properly.  Treating your team with respect and involving them in the decision making will allow them to share in the excitement.
  7.  Failing to delegate – there is too much for you to do alone while launching Lean.  You will limit what you can achieve and the growth of your team if you don’t provide opportunities through delegation.
  8. Losing touch – you can’t let this happen as a Lean Leader.  Go to the Gemba – hit the floor.  Talk to the operators and see the issues first hand.  Don’t let office work stand in the way of making real improvements that hit the bottom line.
  9. Turning people into cogs – even with the best intentions, it’s easy to lose sight of the value of individual team members, especially in manufacturing plants.  This shouldn’t happen if you engage your team during your daily walks through the plant, in Kaizens and other Continuous Improvement activities.
  10. Giving only negative feedback – your team should often be doing things that are new if you are in a Continuous Improvement mode.  Lean leaders should be reinforcing the new behaviors that are beneficial through positive feedback.  Bad behaviors need to be corrected.  This includes any actions that are not supporting the new best practices.  Your Lean team needs both.

Which of these traps catch you?  Have you seen other traps that catch new leaders or even seasoned veterans?  How do you need to change today?

Best regards,
Christian Paulsen
Lean Leadership Blog
Written for http://www.ConsumerGoodsClub.com

Please leave a comment below if you liked this article. You can also connect on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, subscribe via e-mail (right side bar), retweet, digg, or stumble this article. Your feedback is appreciated.

Please check out my Facebook page and continue the discussion there too.

About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
This entry was posted in Leadership and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 10 Management Traps to Avoid – while launching Lean

  1. Rishona says:

    Wow, some really great advice here. I especially like number 2, 4, 5, 7 & 10! I was first introduced to lean manufacturing in an Operations Management class in my MBA program. I have always worked in the service industry….but I can see how many of these concepts can apply there as well! Thank you for this!

    • Rishona,

      Thank you for your comments. Lean started in manufacturing but has expanded to healthcare and many of the principles can be applied in other service industries as well. I am pleased that you enjoyed the article so much. Thanks again.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s