For ten years, Bengt Halling has studied and participated in the implementation of Lean in the industry and in healthcare, and he is convinced that Lean must be connected to health. He sees health, and how you feel when at work, as a fundamental resource for people’s abilities.
“Find out what people need to make work meaningful, understandable and manageable and build a work environment that creates just those feelings,” Bengt Halling says.
Don’t extinguish commitment
“Since Lean builds on people’s commitment, work needs to be experienced as meaningful, as that is the motivating component which creates commitment in the first place.”
Bengt Halling shares his favourite quote with us: “Leadership isn’t only about creating visions; it is about not extinguishing commitment.” Bengt claims that businesses should be more interested in health; Lean builds on people’s commitment and everyone thinks and collaborates in a better way if they feel well.
“When it come to deciding what tools you need, you should ask those on the floor,” Bengt explains. If given the opportunity, they can share their expertise about what would be useful to them. But for this to happen, managers need to “go gemba” as the Japanese say; they must go the place where it happens.
“Yes, but we do go out into the activities, managers say when I meet them. However, it is not about just being there, it is about what you do when you are actually there.”
Local managers need to be supportive and help out. That in itself builds trust and respect which will be crucial in the future, Bengt Halling points out. This is what Toyota did, the original when it comes to Lean. They put the value adders in focus.
“Here, I feel that Lean tools are in focus rather than the value adders and this becomes problematic.”
If you use consultants, Bengt explains, they should teach local managers how to create commitment in co-workers, Otherwise, managers will have no answers as soon as the consultants leave, and that is a very good way to kill commitment.
He has asked managers at various businesses that are considered very successful on Lean how many leadership courses they have completed. It turned out that there were very many. But when asked how many leadership trainings they had attended, very few responded positively.
The assembly line at Scania
In 2019, Bengt Halling has worked with leadership training for managers at Scania in Oskarshamn. He has attended meetings around the board, accompanied managers out in the activities and he has given lectures.
The result was that productivity increased and quality improved, while sick-leave numbers and rehab cases were reduced.
“For me, it is very rewarding to see that what I talk about works out in the factories,” Bengt Halling says.