A blast from the past
Originally, TPS training promoted the importance of a ‘No Blame culture’ in a change program – this consideration has lost momentum, mainly because our psychological use of blame is not common knowledge. Rather than learn, we've ignored. We also respond automatically to those around us with defence mechanisms rooted in fear and guilt, via issues established through imprinting phases from childhood... this is also way off the western lean radar.
These are all issues we must consider when looking to use targets and measures to change behaviours.
People function in relation to the comfort zones they build within their particular environments.
Psychological issues are EVEN MORE important when we consider the degree of control people can exercise over themselves, their performance, their levels of responsibility and their environment.
An ability to act (enabled by local authority and their own self confidence) enables people to establish a positive self-concept that enables freedom from inherited (imprinted) fear and thus, better performance.
It is here we find the link that I propose exists, between psychology, modern management beliefs (i.e. in accounting) and Lean manufacturing tools.
Lean fundamentally requires self-discipline (an internal locus of control) and responsibility (a mature self-concept) as an intuitive element in the people interacting with Lean as a system, such that the system can subsequently provide ‘Control’ for the people in their environment – it is a ‘reciprocal relationship’ in which the ‘Lean system’ is inert until activated by the interaction with people, reflecting the attributes of those people.
We might say, Lean, accounting, or any organisational system, is a mirror held up to reflect the attributes and virtues of those interacting with it.
The ‘energy’ the Lean system taps into, is, how people are ‘Being’ in and of themselves and in their relationships with others.
Standards, morals and virtues all play a part in how people are ‘being’.
Fundamentally people ‘ARE’ who and how they are relative to their beliefs, and the belief in industry, in many ways, is standard accounting practice.
Through an inherent need to make assumptions, we often find popular practices in business are not timely enough to provide control in the way the human brain responds positively to control; assumptions actually remove psychological perceptions of control ... i.e. in the form of budgets and forecasts often constructed without the inclusion of those having to deliver them.
These detached measures, based on fiscal ‘logic’ (which fails to address the emotional issues of acceptance and adoption) ultimately drive the behaviours and attitudes which we loosely refer to as the performance of individuals and the organisation.
In Lean implementations, unless challenged from a temporal and people perspective, standard accounting practice quite often sets measures that drive fear and blame based defence mechanisms, unconsciously undermining an ‘ability to exercise control’ at an individual level.
This subsequently undermines the performance of the organisation, for which accounting practice sets the measures, initially, to gain control. (Ironic huh?)
Please feel free to consider this a paradox, a dichotomy or a bloody mess!
It's also the reason why a philosophical and psychological perspective is required... if leaders are to address real root cause and stop making the mistakes of the past.
By taking control [through standard accounting practice] we ultimately lose control, and generate a blame culture in which people psychologically behave in such a way that they can protect themselves from the dangers of not meeting the targets set. (This psychological line of defence is rarely achieved by meeting the targets!)
Feel free to comment if that little extract has inspired any thoughts. I'd be interested to hear how others see the deeper issues behind effective change.
I'll extract other parts as I continue to review musings of yesteryear and share in the coming days and weeks.
If you'd like to read more, i've created a cheap short course on my academy which you can access here.
The Psychology of Lean Manufacturing
If you want a practical tool you can use to help your teams address 'Blame' there is another short course to take here.
14 Point Change Checklist (Psychology)