Yesterday’s post on recognizing excellence generated considerable response, and I’m still trying to reply to all of you that emailed me directly. The post indirectly tied excellence to music, however many of you noted that there could be a direct link, such as one of the comments,
But the powerful, the ones in charge, those who make decisions, continue to walk on by;
consumed in their world of wants and have little concern to sit back and enjoy the music of their employees.
I was thinking about that concept all the way home. As I annoyingly point out all-too-often (but eat your heart out, especially the surfer I recently promoted to be plant manager of our factory in northern Michigan…), my commute home takes me first through lush vineyards and ends with several miles along a beautiful stretch of California coastline. I’m always listening to music, albeit usually smooth jazz like Fourplay and not classical. This time I was really listening… hearing the various harmonies that created each selection.
"The music of their employees." Systems, processes, methods, the creation of knowledge, the delivering of value… in many respects they are forms of music. Activities sequenced to create beauty… to create value. Each individual function must be in harmony to support each value stream, which must be in harmony to support the overall business. R&D, HR, finance, supply chains, engineering… they all must be in harmony for the composition to be a beautiful piece of music that delivers optimum value to the customer, and thereby to the company itself.
Waste is a discordant note. Our friend and Shingo Prize winning author Bob Emiliani wrote an article for Superfactory a year ago titled Lean is Music to My Ears that explored how "batch and queue" might sound as compared to lean. You have to turn up the speakers a bit to hear it, but the simple beauty of lean is apparent. He also has a table comparing music to lean:
As we pointed out yesterday, excellence can take many forms, not necessarily lean, and we need to keep an eye out for examples and revelation in unexpected areas. But take a moment to think about all of the processes, interactions, and activities in your organization. Are they in sync, both within and between each other? Are they in harmony? Do they create a symphony or just a cacophony?
How does your organization sound? Do you hear beauty and excellence?