Lean practitioners often struggle with competing priorities. They get distracted by activity that does not deliver the desired results. Here is a bit of coaching for your Lean practice: keep the main thing the main thing. It will focus your time, increase reduction of waste through innovation, improve the quality you deliver to your customers – internal and external – and enable you to traverse the challenges of leadership and organizational changes.
Stephen Covey said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” What is the main thing? If you don’t know, you had better learn quickly. Hoshin Kanri is an excellent way to define your main thing, your north star. Although it is a strategy deployment tool, we each have our own personal strategies, or should have. Use Hoshin Kanri to define your strategy, your north star, your main thing. Focusing on the main thing motivates you to push forward, to overcome obstacles and barriers, to see your way through to the results on the other side.
You create a culture of purpose when you have a main thing. The culture begins with you. Through patience and tenacity – two seemingly counterintuitive terms – you can expand your sphere of influence. Organizational changes and changes in leadership are no longer obstacles, but opportunities. Opportunities to win in a new or bigger way. And your sphere of influence continues to expand. Your choices are aligned with your main thing. Your actions and attitudes reflect your main thing. Life is full of competing priorities, distractions, and noise. You may feel pulled in several directions at once. The way to see through all this is to have your north star, your main thing.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to engage in a discussion with an engineer that was the Lean Champion for his organization in the energy industry. He was struggling with a change in leadership. An SVP that was supportive of Lean, was replaced by a new SVP that has lesser ideas about Lean. Understand that this young man is passionate about what he is doing. He loves the engagement he sees at the associate level of his organization. He has invigorated over 1,000 front-line associates in the value of Lean. His desire is to see managers and executives embrace lean with the same exuberance.
In our discussion, he mused as to what he thought he should do. At the end of the day, he determined there would be greater impact than if he stayed the course in an honest effort to influence his organization to truly embrace Lean thinking. Without saying so much, he realized during our conversation that he needed to keep the main thing the main thing.
Life is hard. Work is hard. Concentrate on your north star, your main thing. Doing so will deliver value to your customers, internal and external. It will provide satisfaction and peace of mind in knowing that whatever the challenge, you know where you are going.
Keep the main thing the main thing.
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