I received a very nice comment today from a team member of a lean project. She said, “You know, I didn’t want to be on this team. My boss made me attend. I didn’t think anyone was going to care about my opinion, and I wasn’t sure what I could contribute. Also I was very busy and didn’t think I could take the time for all those meetings.”

She went on to explain that she had been surprised to find the team listening to her closely, and after working through several process issues she now felt that her opinions were taken seriously. She felt a closer connection to the rest of the work team, and more appreciation for what she did. Her closing remark was, “The next time we try to improve something, I’ll look forward to being a team member because now I know what we can do when we work together!”

I take this as a huge positive for this department. Not only did the team solve the immediate process issue, but they will work better as a team from now on even outside the project. Isn’t that one of the “deliverables” of team-based change?

How many times have we heard, “We need to transform the culture!” “This will be real transformational change!” “We’re really going to change the way we work!” There may be a big kick-off event or mandatory workshops or other high-visibility activities. But if we don’t reach all the way to the front-line process experts, are we really going to change or transform a culture?

And, if this type of engagement is not perceived as a win-win for process improvement activities, maybe we should include it as part of the business case for change.

Has anyone had the opportunity to formally assess teamwork before and after a process improvement project? I have lots of anecdotes like the one above, but, if you have done this in a structured way it would be great if you would share your learnings!

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