How many times we have heard or been a part of a steering committee put together to sponsor a Kaizen Event?
How long did the energy, momentum, and enthusiasm last?
How many times a Kaizen Event turned out to be a total failure just a few weeks or months down the road?
Well, under the umbrella of a Certified Lean Manufacturing environment, we will need those committees to become truly committed.
First of all, let us analyze what has made the previous committees fail:
"Urgent" assignments take the members' attention
Improvements were "finished" (are they ever???)
We don't have time for meetings every so often
People don't want to cooperate with us
And a few other excuses
The most important "reason" is they do not consider the steering committee to be a part of their jobs much less will they consider it one of the most important parts of their jobs.
Indeed, when one of these teams performs right, the amount of money they will start saving to the company is out of proportion. In most cases this may end up producing so much revenue and increased profit that will abundantly justify the time devoted to that task, even if it demands some people's full time dedication.
No more "Mickey Mouse" committees please.
Management teams will need to perform a mindset adjustment here. No longer they will assign to the committees the poorest performers or the people they can do without. The assignment must be given a serious tone of privilege, because that is what it is!
Steering committee members should be considered the sponsors of all the improvements we will see from now on in the different activities, and should be credited for them. It is going to represent a real privilege to be assigned those opportunities. Nevertheless, Preston Ingalls, one of the most experienced consultants I have met, calls the new generation of steering committees "Steering Councils". Whatever you want to call them, but integrate and support them seriously!
The meetings of these committees need not be of the typical kind. They will meet usually once per week. Every 22-minute meeting will consist of exchange of essential information and assignment-commitment of the new tasks and actions proposed or required. This is Kaizen concept: what you agree in the meeting, you go out to the floor and get it done! It is vital to keep documentation at all times so we can rely on the accurate history of events and spread the process. KPI's (Key Performance Indicators) should be clearly defined and shown in the areas, so everyone involved can at a glimpse, see and understand the progress in a form of a score-card. All the people should feel they are a part of the "Big Picture", because they really are!
In between meetings there should be a continuous contact via radios, emails, phone, or brief 2-people encounters.
If there is an Intranet in the company, a webmaster will make sure that the successes are published timely, supported with pictures, and everyone in the organization gets invited to share the pride of those achievements.
So this is the "new image" and Role of a Steering Committee or Council.