I am a fan of certifications, acquiring knowledge, taking demanding exams, obtaining a certificate and then applying the knowledge. On this trip things were different, but thanks to a kind colleague I walked back for a moment, took the certificate and was very happy about it, because it gives me the rare opportunity to look back.
It’s about a journey we took as a team, and lean management was one of the orientations. We changed a lot because we wanted it that way and many good ideas emerged from outside. In 2016 we organised a training Lean Sense&Respond in Germany, because some of us found it very exciting. This is a set of methods created by Fujitsu for Service Management. But my team consists of consultants, which is probably the reason why it was so exciting.
In the coming months and years we attempted to adapt the methods for us, made mistakes, learned, stood up again, improved and failed better. And whenever you doubted yourself, there was always someone in the team who had the energy to go one more try and took you with them.
In retrospect, I can only say that adopting these methods was like a catalyst for developing a culture in a team. As an obvious example, all “concerns” (obstacles in daily work) were initially assigned to me, a normal consequence in a hierarchical system. Until we all realised that it would not work that way because it was too many points for one person. Today, team members find such obstacles and remove a lot of them by themselves, sometimes even problems from the category involving hierarchy. So basically problems that could be easily assigned to me. “We analysed the problem, worked out three solutions and made an appointment with the business unit involved. Can you please attend.”. Yes, I am happy to attend, thanks for preparation.
Since these problem fixing actions and solutions are usually clearly structured and offer alternatives, we are much less likely to encounter a negative response than before. A team of consultants is working on many projects at the same time, so there are quite a lot of obstacles in our work, which are cleared away with a fantastic speed. Everybody in the team is motivated to tackle, so you can surely imagine what a positive influence this has on our work. Looking back, it seems to me quite stupid to pass all these obstacles through one person “the boss” as a bottleneck. So I can concentrate on the problems that lie in the hierarchy or are new territory. In other words, putting my back into the right direction.
Certain decisions that seem absolutely logical or even necessary from today’s perspective were not so clear to me at that time. The most outstanding example here, arising from the question of why we have so few female applicants (and thus team members), we were able to hire four great female consultants in a row and I am sure there will be even more in the future. Today we all know that this decision constitutes an absolute enrichment of our competence. I even believe that the biggest doubters of this undertaking have now grown into biggest fans.
Decisions in general, I just find it amusing when in a movie the heroes always do everything better than their team. Imagine chief engineer “Scotty” who fixes, improves and solves everything on the starship Enterprise as a sort of one-man-show. Even though he has technicians who stand beside their aggregates every day and are much more proficient with them. Scotty should encourage his young technicians now and then as a coach. Okay, it’s only fiction. Apart from supporting individuals, we also have the challenge of rapidly developing technology. To make predictions for the future here is wonderfully balanced in a team, more brains more guts. Sticking to decisions is a matter for the management, finding decisions in complex contexts it is better placed in expert teams.
On the topic of efficiency, which is one of the main topics of Lean, I can only report amazing things. We help and support and improve each other, we are often the swiftest and have increased overall performance many times fold. At least if you take internal and external customers as a benchmark. Here, too, a great cooperation with our service management neighbours has been established. When I read headlines today “Companies want to go back to the offices to gain back control over their employees”, I wonder as if we were living in a very different world. I don’t control, I offer my help and try to keep up with how everyone is doing. Here I would also like to thank the team, because we all look after each other. Personal crises, whether small or big, are part of our lives, we are there and stand in for each other, so that we can at least give each other some comfort here. One last sentence in order to control, if something is important to me, I work along like everyone else.
I’m just realising I’ve had a wonderful journey, I could tell you a couple more paragraphs about it. Maybe I will write on the challenges in the future. The work for all of us is not getting less, just different. Getting efficient is great, being efficient can be a burden. In any case, I thank him for the suggestion to take the “Bronze Certificate” after all. Even though we are probably already “silver” consultants somehow. We will take care of that too and I promise that this time it will not take four years. Here it is:
P.S.: If you want to know where the journey is heading. In autumn 2019 and January 2020 we did an Agile training as a team 🙂 Although I stick to the initial words, even Agile is just a way to inspire culture.