Lean Practitioners Need Buddies

I recently joined a large international project as a Lean Manager. To join the project team I moved to another country and left the most of my professional network behind. I was a bit nervous when I started my new job. How would they perceive lean? Where do I find support and inspiration? In the last +10 years I have implemented lean on various projects and learned that a strong network is necessary for success. There are several reasons for this, but the two most important reasons are to get inspiration and to get support.

The need for continuous improvement applies not only to the projects but also to the lean specialists and consultants. You need to actively seek inspiration so that your own learning can progress whether you are working internally in a company or externally for clients. The way you approach people, ask questions, and act in the change process is crucial in successfully implementing the culture and tools associated with Lean and to ensure that the customers get the benefits as well. By actively seeking inspiration, knowledge, and feedback; lean consultants have an opportunity to also refine the way they work. Of course, the client can give valuable feedback too. However it is very beneficial to get feedback and inspiration from other lean specialists who share similar experiences and values.

The second major benefit of having a strong lean-network is the support. Lean aims at continuously improvement and is therefore always related to change. And as with other change processes, implementing lean could be met by organizational resistance. Even the toughest lean specialist needs to get support and recharge his batteries from time to time. By meeting other lean specialists, you can reflect on your own challenges and assess if you are going in the right direction.

What I have learned is that the Lean Community is aware of the need for such a network. Within the first month in my job I received an email from a person who is peripherally connected to the project with the subject: “Lean persons needs buddies”. This email led to several meeting and more connections. I meet with people working with lean construction they will take time to talk about their experiences. On the other hand, whenever people approach me for help regarding lean I make sure they always get a response from me or my colleagues.

This international acceptance that working with lean construction makes us colleagues and not competitors is very special and we can all benefit and contribute to this. By doing so we all contribute to developing the construction industry.

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