29. May. 2018

Art of choosing a Lean Sensei

by SUNIL MALAGI-SENIOR CONSULTANT AT Kaizen Institute INDAF

The Gurukul’s in India

During medieval times in India, till as recent as last century, parents of young 8-year old boys would be sent to the abode of an accomplished Acharya(Sensei) for pursuing his further education. These abodes were known as Gurukul’s. The parents would carefully choose that Acharya, by looking at the suitability and eminence of the Acharya. They verified his antecedents, skills, knowledge and accomplishments besides verifying adaptability with the student. Thereafter, a ritual known as “Upanayana” would be held involving the child, his parents and family and the teacher. There on, his journey of life would begin in the Gurukul, enriching his knowledge, skills and future.

This tradition of nurturing the future of the child through Gurukul system has rendered results and the system has produced best of mathematicians, physicians, teachers, engineers, kings and administrators. Besides, this system has produced one of the best cultures of austerity, value- based society and at the same time a forward looking, adaptive people. 

Drawing an analogy to this, in a corporate environment, it is important to design an effective and working business excellence program. In making this happen, having an Acharya or Sensei is perhaps the most critical link for success. Have you chosen the right Sensei for your enterprise?

Answering this question is as complex as our knowledge on the black hole. Listing some complexities:

  1. The presence in very large numbers, of some fringe resources who have had some exposure on the excellence tools make this task even more difficult. These resources, very often use some jargon exclamations to make a point to impress during the selection process. These jargons make the process even more counterproductive. This fringe generally operates as freelancers who position themselves on basis of least cost of hiring. However, their vision does not extend beyond repeating their known domain knowledge of excellence tools. What is required for an enterprise is a customized approach, need based and prescriptive.
  2. On the other hand, there are consultants from very high-end consulting organizations’ who come with big time baggage, thanks to their accomplished academic past. They have resources who have graduated from premier international institutes and largely belong to the elite class having origins in purples of commerce. This class of consultants use modern day advanced tools like big data, advanced statistical methods. It is very often seen that their approach is far from reality on the Gemba. They spend more time in the comforts of air-conditioned chambers rather than being close to reality on the Gemba.  
  3. There are some consultants who limit themselves and specialize only in specific sectors. Limiting factor with these consultants is, they bring with them immense knowledge in their sector but are short of cross sector learning. For example, automotive sector has implemented many KAIZEN™ tools which have been emulated by other industry segments. In absence of such cross learning, the improvement gambit will be limited.  

Under the circumstance, your enterprise would be in safe hands with a sound strategy and equally hands-on mentoring for implementation, if you choose:

  1. A consulting organization that has capacity to view the big picture and design a business excellence program. They must have the ability to design a company specific road map of excellence.
  2. They should have the bandwidth on different approaches and tools under the excellence umbrella.
  3. It should be a hands-on, implementing specialist consultancy, having led many transformation journey’s.
  4. They should be practicing what they preach. When you walk in top consulting organizations, you will see that they are themselves in shambles. Even basic tools like 5S and Daily Work Management is not implemented in their own office.
  5. Big time degrees from top notch institutes should not be sought after. Look for hands on implementation experience in transformation journey’s.
  6. Look for a consulting organization that has worked across different sectors. Best lessons are learnt when there is cross sector exposure.
  7. The consultancy must be engaged in their own research and must have developed their own KAIZEN™ Change Model.
  8. The consulting organization must have global presence and a large pool of consultants with diverse approach with wide geographical reach

So, end your search for the ideal Lean Sensei’s at Kaizen Institute Consulting Group at www.kaizen.com, in.kaizen.com

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