Lean and team building

The Japanese proverb “none of us is as smart as all of us”.

The Municipal Research and Services Center (MRSC) article Lean on Me: The Pitfalls of Performance Measurements states:

“The Japanese proverb ‘none of us is as smart as all of us’ captures the essence of why respect for people is such a fundamental principle for any group endeavor. To understand the people side of Lean, we explore how focusing on the team of people behind the numbers can help overcome the common pitfalls of performance measurement.”

The Lean Process is built on creating a culture of respect in the work environment, which will support and facilitate county and local elected officials working as a team with their employees; to identify the natural alignment of the county or local government’s purpose, identify the needs of their customers’ (residents, businesses, and visitors), and identify what motivates local and county employees. If the Lean process is built on creating a culture of respect and teamwork, what causes employees and management to have feelings of resentment? MRSC states pent-up resentment is due to:

“Some managers mistakenly believe they can command and control the workforce by imposing performance metrics that cascade down from a strategic plan and are embedded into individual performance evaluations. Employees are forced to ‘feed the beast that bites them,’ laboring to submit data into a computerized tracking system, only to feel unfairly judged and stressed out by the ritualistic posting of quarterly statistics reports. Managers frantically work extra hours to complete work at night after fighting brush fires all day, while employees struggle to keep up with punishing workloads under exhortations to ‘take initiative!’ and ‘do more with less.’”

The solution to the performance metrics pitfalls based on the MRSC article is to use the Lean process to develop consistent and sustainable metrics that are based on elected officials, management, and employees building collaborative work teams. Employees are the “Subject Matter Experts” because it is their job to deliver specific services, and many employees have institutional knowledge based on working with many local or county administrations. County and local officials working as a team with employees can accomplish the goal of identifying inefficiencies in the delivery of city or county services, and help to develop solutions to reduce waste, redundancy, and inefficiencies in the delivery of services.

In conclusion MRSC states:

“Great team experiences often include the story of people banding together to overcome a meaningful challenge; a sense of everyone moving together so that the work flows effortlessly; a strong feeling of camaraderie; confidence that you have each other’s back and that each person is contributing their own unique talent to create a valuable and meaningful result. If you’ve experienced this once in your life, here’s the good news: you can create that again. More good news: most people have a memory like this that you can tap into. If you and your team can develop good habits, you can achieve that vision of a high-functioning team that plays well together, and plays to win.”

Those in Michigan State University Extension that focus on land use provide various training programs on planning and zoning, which are available to be presented in your county. Contact your local land use educator for more information.

Related Events

Related Articles

Related Resources