Ahead of this year's conference, colleagues Aleksandar Drenovac (AD) and Nemanja Dzordeski (ND) had the pleasure of making a short Interview with a Keynote Speaker, Karyn Ross (KR), where they talk about how #ContinuousImprovement is being achieved today in companies and what #obstacles can be find along the way.
AD: Hi Karyn, thank you very much for your time and openness to sharing with us and with our community in Serbia. We are very happy to have an opportunity to hear exciting details from you.
You are worldwide recognized expert, author, consultant and coach in the field of Lean in Service industries. As the co-author of “The Toyota Way to Service Excellence: Lean Transformation in Service” and the author of “How to Coach for Creativity and Service Excellence: A Lean Coaching Workbook”, you are well competent and relevant for topic of making the World better. How do you see that?
KR: I myself was and am a consultant to companies that want to make the world a better place. Lean is an approach which must come deep into a company`s core. It cannot be implemented per managers` directive. When it is widely accepted in a company, then it shows its real results.
AD: Definitely, each company should establish processes in all phases, and this is especially important in services. They can improve them in the same way as any production company.
KR: This is true. I learned lean ‘by doing’ while working in a payroll company. Then I accelerated my Lean learning by working with my first Lean teacher, Leslie Henckler, and by cooperating with famous Jeffrey Liker. Over the years, I’ve focused on ‘translating’ and adapting Lean manufacturing principles to services and have great experience in this topic. One thing in general that people don’t take into account, whether in manufacturing or services, is that learning Lean, and changing culture takes time! That’s because organizations are made up of people, and it takes time for people to learn and grow! Just think about your own family! When you have children, one-year-old babies cannot make significant things, and neither can an organisation which is new to using this concept.
ND: Right, a baby needs to be nurtured before it grows. This principle is the only long-term successful. Have you had any experience with managers being resistant to change?
KR: Oh, yes. This is natural, and as I said, it is the caring and nurturing of people when learning Lean principles, as well as the challenge to create better, more effective and efficient ways to work that gives long-term effects. And, it’s easy to forget, but most important to remember, that it`s all about customers. Let`s look at shopping. Nowadays you can buy anything on Amazon and within hours you get it at your home address. The technology helps customers enter their information correctly, and speeds things up so its what we see first. But we need to remember that it is people who create the computer programs, processes and make real, human connections with customers.
AD: Yes, when you talk about expectations, what are your challenges when starting projects in companies? Are there to high expectations of Top Management and employees, how do you manage that?
KR: Fortunately, I work with companies that recognize need for improvement and necessity to be Lean. Then, everything is much easier. What is important to them is to be patient and to understand that I don`t bring a magic stick and make a company Lean immediately. It is a process, as well. I am helping them to understand how patience is important and that Lean development is not an event. It really is like children’s growth and development- in that case it is necessary to lots of time, sometimes even 18 years.
ND: You are mostly recognized by your work in service industries. What are your experiences with production companies? Are there similarities in Lean approach?
KR: Yes, I have lots of experiences working with production companies. Actually, we can translate everything into service. Besides concrete production process, all other activities are service oriented- you have service before production (like marketing, negotiation, sales and the quoting and purchase process, etc), as well as after production (delivery, billing, service, etc). So, in truth, manufacturing both starts – and ends – with service! Service is everywhere and all organizations must remember that who they are is represented through service.
AD: Yes. You have customers in call centers; banks and insurance companies cannot exist without customers, as well. But not only there. In production processes every subsequent stage is a customer to a previous operation.
Speaking of your visit to Serbia, where you will be a Keynote speaker at the Quality as Concept conference, from the invitation of very inspiring Marija Joksimovic, what are your ideas and expectations?
KR: I am really looking forward to an opportunity to share ideas with Serbian community.
As well as speaking about Using Lean to Create the Services of the Future at the conference, I’m also looking forward to learning from the practitioners who are doing the work in Serbia. Also, it would be great opportunity to give some workshops in Serbian companies, such as my How to Coach for Creativity and Service Excellence Workshop. I’ve also been creating online Coaching Communities of Practice lately, and I’d love to start one or more for Serbia.
I can’t wait to meet everyone soon!