About a week ago, a fellow CEO came to our place for a brainstorming session. When we had finished our intense discussion, I asked if he was interested in a guided tour of our office.
The time I spend walking around is usually a way to light up new tangents in « high level » conversations with others from my digital (or lean) community. It can also be a way to ask my employees for a demo or an explantation: they would take a few minutes to comply and usually feel proud afterwards. But more often than not, my visitor would have no time for such frivolous endeavor and would leave as soon as possible. One exception is Lean henchmen: they wouldn’t miss an opportunity for another Gemba walk.
Another exception was this particular CEO: he’d heard about the way we worked and had some free time before his next meeting. After 5 minutes, we stopped in front one of our Kaizen boards : the header showed 6 columns, Problem, Cause, Action, Results, Learnings and Status. Interested, he took a couple of pictures: I could sense something ticked inside his brain. Straight after, he had seen enough and was ready to leave. Once again I was left wandering what it meant to « get Lean » and how to convey its importance to my daily routines as an entrepreneur.
And today I was reminded how CEO effect on firm performance is mostly due to chance events. How could I convey the importance of Lean to any CEO if his work and success hold so much to plain and simple luck?
Maybe an event like a simple Gemba walk or the Lean Tour I’m co-hosting in Lille next month is just an opportunity for someone to get lucky. Who knows what happens when you get to see a couple of teams doing good work for their customers? If Toyota has been lucky for quite some time, maybe there’s still something to learn along the way. Even if it means learning to see new problems everyday: some of us seem to find it fun, challenging and rewarding.