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The Lean Journey: Involving Your Operators

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

By Ben Roush

Colleague engagement is hard work for any management team. Not only do they have to support the HR engagement efforts in the building, but also find a way to engage their people constantly to keep the pulse of the operation going. Don’t ever think for a moment that your team members are not capable of supporting your improvement process, because they are. If you can't see it this way, then you may be in the wrong business.

One way to strategically support your Kaizen workshop is with the right mix of folks. Team selection can be critical to your success and colleague engagement activities. This should include the following:

1. Create a good, cross-functional group of people involved, which should

include your salaried management staff. Tell them to put on the blue jeans for a couple of days and join the moneymakers.

2. Include all three shifts if you can. This takes some advanced planning to let your people know that you are asking them to disrupt their sleeping patterns to support a good cause.

3. Keep a quality maintenance person with you to help fix things immediately.

4. Include a knowledgeable team leader or tag relief colleague who really knows what's up.

5. Pick Your Cowboy: Inherently we have many levels of influence with our colleague culture. Some of our folks have tremendous attitude and have significant input for us daily. Some of that input is good stuff, and some of it is not very constructive. The fact is that this colleague is engaged and never misses a day, even though he or she may be high maintenance.

Make no mistake, this is a great candidate for Kaizen participation. Once turned, you have a grassroots support mechanism that you can’t buy anywhere, for any price.

How do you involve your operators with your improvement process?

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