What's the point of lean training?
Today of course, we would normally use the word 'imagination' when considering such things.
When we 'imagine' the impact of our actions on work colleagues, our children, animals, society, or even the planet, we form an opinion (a personal philosophy) about what is 'Good, Bad, Right or Wrong' in terms of the outcomes which follow our actions. Once we hold a belief in terms of 'What's Good', we find it difficult to act in any other way, other than in accord with the beliefs we hold.
To act otherwise is 'incongruous' or 'dissonant' .. and our brains don't like that at all.
E.G. If we believe breeding livestock for food is 'wrong' we will choose not to eat meat. If a vegetarian ate meat it would be quite traumatic for them. (By 'trauma' I mean the experience will trigger neurological reactions in terms of disgust & disbelief. In turn, this would release further neurological chemicals associated to negative emotions, supporting the replay of the event in memory to build future defence mechanisms etc.
This neurological side of 'Prudence' (Thinking about the future to determine the validity of our actions in the present) got me thinking about the efficacy of Training in general and Lean in particular. What is the point (or 'Purpose') of training, Learning and Development? Why do we train our people in 'Lean Tools'?
I was looking for deeper reasons beyond the commonly accepted explanation.
Normally, it would be acceptable to answer the question of 'purpose' behind Lean training, by saying, it's to provide an introduction to some of the technical skills associated to 'Lean' and perhaps to deliver a little understanding around the principles and philosophy that sits behind the tools .... so the trainee is able to support lean change initiatives within their organisation. In many ways that's perfectly reasonable .. but only through one, rather shallow, lens ... when you look a little deeper, from a 'psychology and neuroscience of change' perspective, I have to say such explanations are jumping the gun a whole hell of a lot! ... and they fail to really nail the 'purpose' of the training / intervention.
I say this, because my studies have helped me see that a new skill, or a new understanding of a principle is, in reality the formation of a new neural wiring and firing pattern, laid down through the process of neurogenesis as a result of sensory stimulus over time.
Key words here are - 'Over Time' ... the growth of new neurons doesn't happen 'just like that'. It's not like throwing a switch and a light comes on. Humans judge anything 'new' as 'good' or 'bad' and depending on the outcome of that judgement, they either gravitate towards or away from whatever 'new' thing they have experienced (including 'Lean' / change in their workplace).
So when it comes to the purpose of Training, Learning and Development (L&D), we have to consider a deeper level of activity within people before we can jump to the end result of understanding and skills. We have to appreciate that the 'purpose' of any form of training experience is to get people to form new neural networks, often in respect to subjects they have never considered or been exposed to in the past. Additionally, to accept these new principles, embed them into their world-view and transfer them back to the workplace effectively, the subject (and the leaders in the situation) must be seen as 'Good'! If they cannot be perceived as good, there can be no trust and without trust, you do not get honesty or respect.
The principles being trained must also be seen as 'Good' for long enough to form a sufficiently strong neural network that replaces / integrates with the existing neural network ... if it doesn't then world-view / beliefs / actions etc. may only be affected by the 'New' sensory input for a short time. In such circumstance, the delegate will revert to established neural pathways (comfort zones) and quickly fall back into habits, repeating their past behaviours and re-establishing their prior beliefs.
In terms of adopting lean principles and adapting to lean practices, this 'new view' requires we have to understand things like the rate of neuronal change and the Physical, Emotional and Social / Systemic (PESS©) conditions in which that change can take place effectively and efficiently.
So, What's the point of training lean ... what's the purpose of training ... I say it HASto be; to form new neural networks in human brains through the provision of experience and the prevailing PESS conditions in which the rate of neural adaption can be maximised.
If you're training is designed with anything less in mind, you can bet it is missing a hell of a lot that sits behind the realisation of sustainable / cultural change.
When we consider such Human Factors behind 'Change', it's easy to see that new knowledge and Lean capability are an outcome of neural adaption through training, leadership, culture ...., they are not the purpose of training. The ultimate intent and purpose of training is to change neural wiring and firing patterns, which are a pre-cursor to new beliefs, behaviour, performance and profit.
It may seem like a subtle difference, but it's an immensely powerful one that has seen much investment wasted over the last 40 years or so. Let's move things on and use the latest science to 'change' our approach to 'Change'.
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