Tired of constantly implementing LEAN? Switch to turquoise
Hardly anyone remembers now that the origins of the modern method of management in factories – Lean Management and Lean Manufacturing – can be traced to William Edwards Deming’s departure to Japan in 1947 and his lectures for Japanese engineers in the 1950s. Is LEAN still the most modern management method? Has technological progress, globalization, universal access to knowledge, social media and companies based on the collaborative economy not mean that LEAN management methods are a bit of a mouse? For some, NO, because they still defend the good old hierarchical structures, long-term LEAN implementations and the CEO out of necessity taking GEMBA walks. For some, YES, because they notice how quickly the group of turquoise companies is expanding, relying on flexible structures, self-organization, employee involvement and the company’s 100% based on a human being with his fullness.
Haven’t you ever thought about throwing this whole LEAN implementation away? To throw away is a constant explanation to new employees that when you say 5S, you do not mean your smartphone model, that when you mention that you are going to do GEMBA, you do not say anything about your face and when you notice MUDA it is not related to boredom at work . Do not worry. You weren’t the only one who had such doubts.
Fortunately for the sake of comfort, let me add: that you are not the first to abandon this complicated, strongly Japanese-based, long-term and self-discipline-driven process. Many before you have already done this, at least I have met many on my way.
On the other hand, a good alternative to LEAN has emerged over the last few decades, much more effective, human and based on genuine human involvement and independent decisions made by colleagues.
Below are some dates and people who contributed to the creation of new management methods based on self-organization, internal motivation of the employee and departing from the hierarchical structures of the organization:
- The early twentieth century and Merry Parker Follett who Peter Drucker called the “prophet of management” and her methods stood in opposition to Taylor’s “command-and-control” methods and were based on interpersonal relations, the search for win-win solutions and situational leadership.
- In 1949 Eric Trist – a researcher of self-organization and group dynamics – and his colleagues discovered self-organizing, highly autonomous and responsible teams of workers in a Yorkshire coal mine based on close team contact with customers.
- The 1950s and 1960s Douglas McGregor noted that control demotivates man and created Theories X and Theories Y that describe two opposing approaches to managing organizations. He said: “Probably someday we should draw a new organization chart as a series of interconnected groups rather than as a hierarchical structure of interconnected units.”
- In 1958, Bill and Vieve Gore founded W.L. Gore & Associates develops a family business from zero to 10,000 people, innovative, based on freedom, integrity and trust of the organization. Decisions are made in a consultative manner, employees are called co-workers and they choose a leader rather than a traditional boss. The company developed the concept of “job sculpting” – sculpting the position: “match the role to the colleague rather than the co-worker to the role”.
- In 1971, Dr. Jan Wallander joins Handelsbank, Sweden’s largest bank as CEO. He joins the company when the bank is in a deep crisis and receives a carte blanche for a deep reorganization of the company. It eliminates the organizational structure and introduces a radical decentralization of the way of making decisions, without annual financial and strategic planning and ensuring independence for each of the bank’s branches.
- Ricardo Semler joins the Brazilian company Semco, founded by his grandfather, and in the 1980s completely reorganizes the company by introducing a democratic way of making decisions, abandoning hierarchical pyramid, giving teams autonomy to make decisions and transparency in finances, and independent decision-making on wages by employees.
- Frank Blase in 1985, joining the small company igus GmbH, founded by his parents Gunter and Margaret Blase, decides to change the organizational structure of the company to “solar system”. After the experience he had working in a large corporation managed on the basis of a hierarchical pyramid, where many ideas were dying, in the decision-making process, transferred from bottom to top, he decided to place the client in the igus of the client in the very center of the organizational system, and the teams around the client – mostly autonomously . Thanks to organizational and product innovation, the company quickly developed from a small German company to an industry leader with 3,200 people in 35 branches around the world.
- February 2001 signing of the Agile Manifesto, i.e. the Agile Manifesto of Software Development by the most important programmers in the world, and creating the foundations for a new way of organization in software development and organization of companies based on close contact between the team of developers and the client and abandoning the traditional roles of the boss and rigid organizational structures for organizational agility.
- Brian Robertson founded Holacracy One in 2009 after his experience in managing an IT company and bases the new way of organizing companies on self-organization, transparency and organizational agility.
- In 2010, Jurgen Apello publishes the book Management 3.0, writing down his experience as a manager and management enthusiast in which, writes how to organize a company without a hierarchical pyramid and departing from management methods based on “carrot and stick”.
- In 2014, Frederic Laloux published the book “Reinventig Organizations”, the Polish title “Work differently”, in which he describes in detail 12 companies from various industries, different sizes, and from different parts of the world, naming them turquoise organizations. All these 12 companies, completely unconnected and in contact with each other, share a completely different approach to organization and management than traditional companies. Distinguishes these turquoise companies:
- Self-management: relying on each individual’s ability to self-organize rather than a “command-and-control” system. All of these companies do not have an organizational system based on a hierarchical pyramid of vertical management
- Striving for wholeness: moving away from hierarchy and masking, “president” or “operator” in favor of being fully human with all aspects of humanity: emotional, physical, mental and spiritual
- Evolutionary sense of existence: moving away from long-term planning, creating strategies for agility and organizational flexibility, and searching for a team and individual sense for the existence of an organization and each person
The above story obviously does not list all practitioners and management theorists and companies that manage alternatively in the “Tukrus” style. This story explains in large part why the turquoise organizations were created and that the move away from carrot-and-stick management and hierarchical pyramid structure. it’s not a short-lived fashion, but a permanent trend, proven in many industries, in many countries and there are more and more people in the world who know it well. Looking from a larger perspective, it turns out that these are still units, a percentage of companies in Poland and in the world, most often individual, brave CEOs, business owners who are tired of constantly issuing new orders, tasks and being an enemy for employees, the only decision-maker, an unavailable ruler they decided to shift their management towards participation, self-organization and being more of a mentor, colleagues and friend to their colleagues.
I spent 10 years working, managing and co-creating igus in Poland, at the end of the year I left the company to start the turquoise ecoCoach company from scratch and help other companies create more human jobs. Include participation in the way of management, support CEOs and management boards in changing organizational structures. By creating ecoCoach from scratch in a turquoise way, we also give our way of operating and taking care of the three pillars of turquoise organization in the team: self-organization, striving for wholeness and the evolutionary sense of existence, the best example that the company, even at the beginning of its operation, can be organized and managed completely another way.
Finally, I will only honestly refer to the title of this article: I know the LEAN methodology because I have also implemented it in igus and I know its advantages and disadvantages. I do not think that the LEAN methodology is unnecessary for companies because many companies use these methods to manage their daily production processes. In my personal opinion, if we didn’t have figures like William Edwards Deming or Taichi Ono one day, we wouldn’t be able to talk about turquoise organizations today.
However, being close and working as a board coach with startups, IT companies and production plants from various industries that are increasingly switching to turquoise management methods, I have one summary: let go of the LEAN implementation, switch to turquoise.