Is your organization struggling to implement lean or any similar process improvement program? This post presents the 10 best Dilbert cartoons on lean management.* Scott Adams’ brilliant and popular cartoons provide a reality check for any change agent involved in process improvement. Next time, ask yourself: What would Dilbert do?
#10 Develop a long-term corporate lean program
Restarting a new improvement program every quarter or year? The only ones wagging their tails are the consultants. Instead, develop a lasting corporate lean program—and stick with it for a long time.
#9 Make it simple, but significant
Making things complex because complex must mean smart? Go instead for the advice of Don Draper (Mad Man, season 4 episode 6): “Make it simple, but significant”.
#8 Educate the managers
Despite what many of them seem to believe, managers do not know everything. A successful lean transformation requires managers that take the lead and motivate change. To do so, managers need to be educated in the content and process of lean management.
#7 Focus on value for the customer
To have goals are great, but they should be right. Dilbert gets it; lean starts with a focus on value for the customer.
#6 Go to Gemba
It can be hard to be a manager. They often feel too busy to get going, and too important to engage in daily operations. Instead of being out of touch, go regularly to Gemba (shop-floor) and experience the power of solving issues before they get out of hand.
#5 Respect for people
If we are to succeed, you must… at least understand the most important lean principle of all: Respect for people. The Boss could certainly do a better job at motivating Dilbert, Alice, and Wally for implementing change.
#4 Use consultants wisely
Consultants can be tremendously helpful in any lean transformation. Most organizations could benefit from their experience and external view (especially in the early and late stages). But consultants must be used wisely; use them to build in-house competence, not to drain your budgets.
#3 Embrace problems as opportunities for learning
If you don’t have any problems, you will soon have too many. Problems are opportunities for learning. Embrace them to move forward (and don’t mind the belts).
#2 Develop a lean supply chain
Whereas supply chain thinking is a given at Toyota, most companies are not able to take their lean programs beyond their own factory walls. Just in time inventory management and supply chain integration is not risk free. That is why progressive lean companies build trust in their supply chains.
#1 Watch out for improvements and results
The question is no longer whether improvement programs can be useful, but how to implement them with success (see post about the S-curve). If your program doesn’t pay off, it doesn’t matter if it’s labelled “lean”, “six sigma”, “lean six sigma”, “total quality management”, “world class manufacturing”, “[company name] production system”, or anything else. Watch out for improvements and results, celebrate them, and enjoy the lean journey.
Are you feeling like Dilbert sometimes? At least, you’re not alone. Have a laugh and carry on. Any Dilbert cartoons on lean management I missed?
* The Dilbert cartoons on lean in this post are published with an exclusive permission of Universal Uclick. Please see www.dilbert.com for the general terms of distribution.