Lean thinking advocates are largely excited about Lean. As we learn more about what Lean thinking, and ultimately a Lean lifestyle, entails the enthusiasm often grows.
We need to remember that for many people this Lean stuff is scary – very scary! When we ask some leaders to transition from commanders and controllers to partners and coaches we’re asking many of them to give up their self image of what makes them a valuable person. And losing part of one’s self image is extremely threatening, disturbing, and often wounding. No wonder many people revert back to pre-Lean behaviors when problems arise (and when don’t problems arise?).
There is a saying many Lean advocates repeat – “Change your people, or change your people.” – meaning if people won’t change we need to release them from the team and replace them. Replacing people should be a last resort, and we need to recognize that doing so is in part a failure on our part as leaders. Leaders need to guide the reluctant through their transition toward Lean thinking and practices, sensitive to the fact that we are not simply asking them to behave differently, but to change a big part of who they are.
And that is scary.