When I was first introduced to Lean, I had no idea what it was all about or how this was going to work. Words such as Kaizen, Hoshin Kanri, the 5S’s and Bowlers were starting to give me heart palpitations every time I heard it.
What was it? What did this mean? Was it a way to eliminate the workforce? So many questions raced through my mind, not to mention the sleepless nights I had worrying if this was something I could keep up with in the organization.
It was inevitable. GE was embracing lean management, a system that aims to bring about continuous improvement which was to be the heart of GE’s turnaround in 2020. At FieldCore, being a GE Company, it only made sense that it flowed through our systems and processes as well and so it began.
It soon became FieldCore’s strategy, and it was adopted at every level of the organization. The pandemic accelerated our adoption into lean management where systemic thinking and smart management of resources became even more important.
As part of our own lean journey, we were asked to adopt leader standard work which gave me a better hold of my time when I realized how much time was being wasted on menial items. I soon started changing the way I think as well as this leader standard work prompted me to question the way I operate daily.
Reading literature on lean and familiarizing myself with its many terminologies also helped me embrace the lean culture. The best experience by far was going on gemba walks. Gemba walks was a way for the management team to go down to sites to address ‘real world problems’ which otherwise would have been missed if one were to be seated at the boardroom and trying to tackle such issues on ground.
I soon learnt that Gemba Walks was a process improvement tool that was created by the leaders at Toyota which loosely translates from the root Japanese word ‘the real place’. It is sometimes referred to as ‘the place where value is created’.
And it was during my walks down to these power plants that I truly was able to understand the challenges that many of my colleagues in the field was facing daily. As a communicator within the organization, these Gemba Walks is a powerful tool that might not give me all I need to solve a problem but perhaps allows me to understand, appreciate the challenges and bring it back to management with ‘fresh eyes’ and help them solve it together.