I recently listened to a Gemba Academy podcast (www.gembapodcast.com episode 116) on Storytelling and Lean. There were some great points I thought would be of use to this community.
Ultimately, Lean is about people. However, when practitioners talk about Lean they tend to talk more about facts and figures – cycle time reductions, cost savings, etc. The presenter for this podcast was Jacob Stoller (www.jacobstoller.com) author of the book “The Lean CEO”. He interviewed leaders who were able to effectively develop lean cultures within their companies. It was here that he first came to appreciate the power of storytelling for promoting the benefits of Lean.
Stories are great tools for touching people’s hearts and minds. Neuroscience shows that when people listen to stories, that more regions of their brain light up than when they watch a presentation filled with facts and figures. This effect is amplified when someone can put themselves into the story and it resonates with their experience.
To instill a Lean culture you need to change people’s beliefs. Great stories touch emotions. In the podcast there is an example of a story told during a presentation of the results of a process improvement project. The leader asked one of the workers who was part of the project, how that project had impacted him personally. The man told the leader that now he talked to his wife more. When asked to explain, he said that since being part of the lean project, he felt more fulfilled at work, his ideas were recognized and he had a chance to become more engaged in his job. So, instead of going home at the end of the day feeling beaten down, he left with a more positive attitude. This carried over to his relationship with his family and as a result, he and his wife were getting along better.
This is a story everyone can relate to. The facts of the project might only be of interest to someone in a similar position or industry, but the human impact is something everyone can relate to.