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Chickens and Eggs

by Lean Leaper
August 1, 2013

Chickens and Eggs

by Lean Leaper
August 1, 2013 | Comments (8)

Which should come first, the technical side of change or the social side of change? Should we get people to think the right way or just do the right thing? What do you think?

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Lean Enterprise Institute.
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kevin kobett August 01, 2013
5 People AGREE with this comment

If you were to start a baseball team, you would ask, "Does anyone have experience playing baseball?"


Same thing for lean. Ask all employees, "What improvements have you already made?" You may be surprised by the answers. Do not assume nobody is practicing lean because there is no official program. These employees can help others.

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Chamara De Silva August 04, 2013
It is the social side of the change need to be done Before the technical chane.Who implement the technical changes It's the people and the culture is created with the thought pattern of people and their behaviors .there will be change embrasers and wait and see'rs both but its about the talent and commitment of the leaders to convince them and create the culture with in which technical change can be adopt successfull

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Tracey Richardson August 05, 2013
3 People AGREE with this comment
As I often say in my training sessions - "The People Side will always trump the Tool Side of Lean".   You must invest in your people and make sure they understand "why" we are doing Lean or any other business changing process. 

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Karin Vukovinsky August 08, 2013
1 Person AGREES with this comment
I think you go forward with both.  Get people involved in projects so that they can see improvements and explain the why as you go along.  Even better if you can get some pet projects done not necessarily the biggest pay off financially, but the one that will solve the biggest pain point for those affected by the process.  As people see positive change and they hear the message of Lean thinking, you get grass roots buy-in

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Andy Hillig August 08, 2013
1 Person AGREES with this comment
I agree with Karin.  Do both.  People like to learn "hands-on."  We're finding our success advancing our Lean journey by building a ground-swell of "doing" - small initiatives (mostly 5S) to build understanding and excitement. 

In a sense, we're creating our own "pull system," where the desired to move to a Lean culture is pulled from the excitement and experience of small successes


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Woody Till August 09, 2013
"Why" comes first even before the chicken or the egg. Culture trumps improvement / change always. If you don't have a culture that is constantly asking "Why" you will always do what you've always done. Even if you apply the technology (Lean tools) your efforts will fail because the people will back slide into the old cultural nature. In order to break the cultural barrier you must answer the question "Why should I do this thing called Lean, What's in it for me?" Even if your company has an autocratic leader that says "You will do Lean" as soon as the focus or leader changes the backsliding begins. It's simi;ar to the TV commercial "A body at rest stays at rest, but a body in motion stays in motion". Change the culture so the employees are constantly challenging the status quo and asking Why. It is in this culture that they will want to use the tools to make things better. 

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kevin kobett August 09, 2013

I agree that answering why is critical. I mentioned this in another post. However, some individuals have such an overwhelming need to achieve, why does not matter. They practice lean because not doing so leads to a very unfulfilled life. If you want to succeed at lean, these high achievers must become your lean leaders. For them, failure is not an option. They must be involved from the beginning to answer the question why.


It astounds me that lean has completely ignored McClelland's theory of needs. Every management student studies McClelland yet his practices never are used. Lean fails because individuals with a high power need are in charge. Their main goal is to suppress the mention of any problems.

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Zack Wilson August 12, 2013
I believe that leaders in an orginization should not "get" their people to think the right way; rather teach their people to think the right way by exemplifying how to "do the right thing."  In other words, I agree with the statements that include both social and technical change at the same time.  To reference an overused expression, you cannot teach someone to fish if you don't know how, yourself

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