During the late 1980s, the concept of lean was introduced to the world by the Japanese. The phrase “Go to Gemba” was very popular those days, an even today has a lot of relevance in many companies still embarking the lean journey. This concept was communicated using the following pictorial of the inverse triangle.
The core message in this pictorial is the need for each and every person in an organization to support the workforce to seamlessly add value to the products and services offered to the customers. This is a way set the new norms for accountability. I remember initiating a debate in the top management team during early 1990s, when I was in Brazil, “If you have a machine stopped needing your attention and at the same time your boss calls you for a meeting, where would you go? – To the machine or to the boss?” the unanimous answer was “Boss”. The idea of this inversion was and even today is exactly the opposite.
Of course, there are many units practicing this. I remember during late 1990s, when I posed the same question, when I was in Germany, the unanimous answer was “Machine, of course. Even my Boss will walk down there.” This plant in Germany even today manufactures some components with the lowest cost despite high salaries. Well, this fundamental mindset had driven this plant to implement many solutions, already in early 2000s, as per what today we call Industry 4.0!
The cultural shift necessary for such a paradigm shift becomes even more evident when we look at this pictorial.
- HRM Human Resources
- AEN Advance Engineering
- MKT Marketing
- CTG Controlling
- SAL Sales
- PRJ Project Management
- PRD Product Development
- MFE Manufacturing Engineering
- SSP Strategic Sourcing (Purchasing)
- COP Customer Order Planning
- SCP Supply Chain (Procurement)
- PPC Production Planning and Control
- MFG Production Operations
- FCM Facilities Management
- MEM MAE Maintenance
- QAM Quality Assurance
- SLW Storage Logistics and Warehousing
- FIN Finance
- CSS Customer Service and Support
- INT Information Technology
- WOR Blue-Collar Employee
- CON White-Collar Employee
- 1st L Team Leadership
- 2nd L Group Leadership
- 3rd L Department Leadership
- 4th L Function Leadership
- 5th L Unit Leadership
- 6th L Local Leadership
- 7th L Global Leadership
If the accountability of everyone in a company is towards those green icons in the pictorial, then the flow of the products and services becomes continuous, the fundamental goal of any Assembly Line, Lean Manufacturing or Theory of Constraints. The poorly engineered products, processes and systems will cease to exit. Full kitting will become a reality. Continual Improvement will become the DNA. Unions will just vanish. Servant Leadership so much needed in today’s troubled times will become a reality.
I am in no way hinting at not being accountable to the other stakeholders like the customers, shareholders, partners, and society. I am just triggering a thought whether being accountable towards those green icons for continuous flow and continual improvement, actually makes each one of us also accountable to all the stakeholders too.
I want to end my blog with the question “Who are you accountable for?”