Interactions Need Consistency
So how can we improve workplace interactions and eliminate the ninth form of waste? The first step
is to treat an interaction as you would any
other manufacturing process: You must
standardize the workforce interaction.
Like delivery, extraction, fabrication, or
transportation, the interaction process can
be systemized to reduce variability and create a repeatable and predictable process.
Once the process is established, it can be
applied to any type of interaction.
Accenture’s 2013 Global Manufacturing Study states that “globally consistent,
repeatable operating models and reliable,
predictable production facilities are fundamental to enabling the flexibility required”
for today’s manufacturers. Leaders need
a consistent, step-by-step communication process that yields reliable results and
is flexible enough to accommodate every
face-to-face or technology-enabled workplace interaction.
So what does this look like? It’s how you
open a discussion, clarify the purpose,
develop a course of action, agree on next
steps, and close the discussion. These sim-
ple steps create commitment and ultimate-
ly action for everyone involved. But with-
out them—or if a step is skipped—a leader
could fail to get employee input or not get
to the root of the employee problem. And
that is the source of waste.
Now, beyond these steps, consider how
participants interact with one another during the conversation. They need to focus on
fostering esteem, empathy, involvement,
sharing, and support. Meeting personal
needs addresses one of the foundational elements of lean: respect for employees. Another foundational element of a successful
lean operation is building trust. Managers
can learn how to utilize these principles to
ensure positive interactions.
As we address a ninth form of waste—
workplace interactions—that is pervasive
and distinctly felt when performed poorly,
yet never equated with other waste forms
in its potential to sabotage the success of
any lean initiative, learning to recognize
and eliminate it will significantly reduce all
The ROI of Lean Leadership
Manufacturers, in particular, are heavily invested in reducing the eight forms of waste. Left
unaddressed, these wastes (or Muda) significantly impair operational and financial
In the same way, ineffective interactions
between leaders and those whom they
lead can also affect organizational performance. They create cost without adding
Formal as well as informal
interactions between manager
and team members are
potential sources of waste.