An important thing that the Lean community must come to grips with is what senior leaders of companies will and, more importantly, will not do. This applies to organizations of any size, but especially large companies.
After nearly 30 years, we have a lot of empirical evidence on what senior leaders will not do when it comes to Lean leadership and Lean management.
The facts are that most senior leaders will not:
- Change their behaviors
- Change their ways of thinking
- Develop new competencies
- Take a martial arts approach to practicing Lean management (this includes katas and other disciplined activities such as PDCA).
- Participate in kaizen
- Teach or coach
- Go on gemba walks
- Observe what is happening on the gemba
- Correct out-of-standard conditions
- Perform root cause analysis for management problems
- Commit to no layoffs due to kaizen
- Have the patience to create a Lean enterprise
What, then, becomes of the Lean movement, if it is true that Lean must be led?