Change will happen. Change will affect everyone – including you. Change is constant happening. The way to manage change is to manage the “dip” in performance that occurs every time a new change is introduced. Managing it means that you will have to try to make the dip in performance as small as possible! If it is not managed and the dip gets too profound – you might be certain that you will have a very hard time implementing your change and making it happen!
“TPDS is rooted much deeper in the culture in things like genchi genbutsu, the chief engineer system, kaizen, TPS, etc. it is the totality of it working together in the culture established across many years that makes it all work. What is actually happening in your workplace? A good understanding of that is critical. To have a clear understanding of what your work is and how you are doing, that is what is important.”
Takeshi Uchiyamada, Chief Engineer of the original Prius
An organization’s culture defines what goes on in its workplace, and no company can develop a lean PD system without a strong and vibrant culture.
How Culture Can Stand Between You and Lean
The assumption is that if lean has eliminated or reduced waste in manufacturing, it can do the same for product development. Invariably, their organizations expect them to bring back effective waste-bursting tools that will cut lead-time and cost. Of course, it’s not that simple. Comments from companies whose engineers have taken suck courses or have attempted to apply Toyota’s lean PD tools illustrate the problem:
- We invested millions in a “book of knowledge”. It is web-based system and several people were assigned full time to load it up with standards and best practices. But we are getting almost no hits – engineers are not using it!
- We created a new role of chief engineer. A bunch of engineers in different project manager roles were given this new title. But they still acted just like the old project managers and still did not have any power to get anything done.
- We value stream mapped and came up with great ideas. We created A3’s and developed action plans. Then we got three new programs dumped on us, the crisis mode kicked in, and the action plans went out the window.
As these examples show, companies cannot simply have their engineers learn and apply these powerful tools and then sit back and watch the waste evaporate. What is missing is a lean culture to sustain the tools. Loosely defined, culture is the soft, imprecise, fuzzy stuff of everyday life. Definition of culture:
“… the pattern of basic assumptions that a given group has invented, discovered, or developed in learning to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, and that have worked well enough to be considered valid, and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems.”