Communicate with impact

Published 15 August 15

One of the most important lessons Dr George Fisher says he’s learned from experience and work in LEAN management, is that different people think in different ways. At the Dolphenby workshop, he discussed how applying LEAN thinking across a business relied on everyone understanding what was trying to be achieved. 

“So, how do you get people to understand what you’re trying to achieve?” asked George. “Efficient businesses need a set of standard procedures that everyone understands and implements. If people don’t remember them, don’t read signs, constantly adapt what they’re doing because the original process gets forgotten, then we start to get the variability in performance that leads to waste.”

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George illustrated this point with two signs he had found in the Dolphenby farm office that morning. One was a guide to when cows should be bred, and the other was emergency instructions to operate the generator.

When he asked the Dolphenby team members which they remembered, they said the breeding guide with pictures of cows, colour and clear boxes were memorable and they often referred to it. They didn’t recall having ever seen the generator instructions, which were just a list of sentences.

“Verbal communication is the same,” said George. “Make things stand out, repeat them, supplement with signs and guides. Remember that English isn’t the first language for many staff now so think how you can increase their understanding in their own language, boost their English or use pictorial visual aids.”

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