“Lean is just a means to solve problems” – John Shook visits King County

In late April, John Shook facilitated a Lean transformation workshop for a group of six King County agency leadership teams. Shook himself worked at Toyota for 11 years and later helped spread Lean knowledge and build the Lean community around the world via the Lean Enterprise Institute.

shook pic

In the course of the day-long learning, Shook and members of the Continuous Improvement Team helped agency leaders identify opportunities for improvement in their current work and develop paths toward transforming how they do business using Lean thinking.

Lean is just a means to solve problems,” Shook emphasized. “At every level, in every activity.

He urged the group of county leaders toward clearly defined work goals, both for the organization as a whole to meet customer needs and for the individual employees to understand their role in that work.

“Each person in the organization is the top expert at something.” said Shook, “They do something better than everyone else.” When people know the goals and their role, they can apply themselves as problem solvers. Problems like unexpected fires at work and also problems like achieving strategic goals and delivering better value for customers.

The workshop got Chrissy Russillo, (interim) deputy of Human Resources Division, thinking about King County’s work enviroment. “I saw the importance of being open about problems in our work culture. His advice is to give people the freedom to continually identify what’s wrong with the current way we do our work and to propose solutions. That’s the sort of place that the most talented and energetic workers will want to be as well.”

Others in the workshop appreciated the learning presentation, but wish Shook had had more time to talk about his learning through the years and offer his advice on how to change the organizational mindset.

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