[ENG] People engagement in process improvement

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[ENG] People engagement in process improvement

There is no company in the world that achieves outstanding results without motivated and engaged people. What employees’ engagement really is and who or what it depends on?


One of the key Lean Strategy tenets says to engage all employees in continuous improvement of the processes they execute, according to their role.

As each process consists of three components: value-added activities (what the customer is willing to pay for), obvious wastes (unnecessary and non-value adding activities), and necessary waste (activities required by technologies, regulations, etc.). The process improvement is about engaging all employees in identification and elimination of waste. At the same time, employees need to be encouraged by a consistent awareness of „what adds value to the customer?”, „what does the company strive for?” and “how they deliver value in the process”.

The challenge which leaders are facing is to overcome their habits and to give up managing from behind the desk, but going to GEMBA (a place where the process is done) instead. This is their role, to observe and support employees in seeing their problems but does not solve it for them. That gives employees the opportunity to influence their own work.

On the way to continuous improvements, companies usually make three simple mistakes:

  1. the process improvement is considered as a project;
  2. “improvement team” is established;
  3. managing the process improvement from the training room / office.


  1. The project by its nature is limited in time. This stands in contradiction to the continuous improvement philosophy, which should be perceived as a continuous transformation, something that has no end and always aims at adding value to customers. Treating the transformation as a project quickly turns against the leaders and the whole organization because after the „implementation” and short-term euphoria, everything usually comes back to the previous state and previous habits. Additionally involvement of employees in future initiatives turns down.
  1. Establishing an ad hoc improvement team, which is dedicated to the ‘special’ task of improving the process, makes that responsibility for identification and elimination of waste is taken away from the employees. When in fact continuous improvement should be with all the employees involved in the process. At the same time the leader should inspire people to discredit the status quo and seek for the better ways of doing the same job together.
  2. Managing process transformation from the office. Imagine a situation in which the coach of a football team discusses a match tactics, and then he stays in the cloakroom while the players run out on the pitch. Earlier he had discussed methods of winning, ‘set’ players (employees and their tasks in the process); now in the cloakroom (office) he is waiting for the result. Each of us probably witnessed football matches and the spontaneous reaction of the outstanding leaders – the managers in the duel. What do they do? They watch the match (process), inspire actions, constantly question the status quo. But the improvement (the endavor for victory) is in the hands – both legs and minds – of the players.

For 90 minutes, they constantly make corrections, look for mistakes, act on players to draw conclusions, look for solutions to bring them closer to winning. The conversation in the cloakroom is like training in a class – it can inspire, but it does not replace the right attitude on the pitch (in GEMBA, where the process takes place).

If you expect people to be involved in the process improvement, do not take them away from their work. Do not seek transformation sources in the training room. As a leader – support and motivate employees in seeking solutions being there, where the process takes place.

Leanpassion, the author of the Lean Strategy, offers technology solutions which supports the process of continuous improvement. Sherlock Waste is the application for a desktop PC or a smartphone, which enable team members to register identified wastes, share the ideas and problems, vote for solutions, gain points and awards. It helps leaders to manage the process by generating reports and rankings.

More about the solution you can find here.

You can download the application form Google Play.

For an access for your company contact us directly.