“Lean is not that complicated,” says Carolyn Corvi. “It is relatively easy to understand. The challenge is creating and sustaining a culture of continuous improvement.”
Corvi led the development of the 737 moving line at Boeing, is the former Board chair at Virginia Mason, and is a prominent Lean leader in our region. She is also a disciple of Sensei Chihiro Nakao’s “moonshine kaizen” approach to Lean.
On Thursday, June 18th, Carolyn Corvi visited King County and discussed Lean leadership challenges with County leaders in Public Health’s Community Health Services and Jail Health Services divisions, and also with Metro Transit’s Vehicle Maintenance section.
Corvi has visited King County in the past—more than two years ago—and complimented the culture change she sees in the county. Today, she hears people in King County “speaking a common language and asking the right kinds of questions.”
Like Sensei Nakao, Corvi urges doing and trying instead of sitting in a conference room talking about it. She says that leaders should set an example by actually leading workshops or joining a kaizen team. Talking about what everyone else is expected to do, or delegating won’t cut it. Lean leaders should become teachers and participate—visiting the places where the work gets done and paving the way for the people who do the work to change how they do the work.
To that end, Corvi urges leaders and teams to set big audacious goals that motivate people and drive change. “Improve it by 50%, whatever it is, then when you achieve that, improve it by 50% again, and again. It is amazing what people can achieve when they are empowered to make change.”
“Lean not only enables people do their jobs better..more effectively” she advises, “but it also gives people permission to bring their ideas to work everyday so they can really make a difference.” People might be accountants or mechanics or firefighters, but their real job, says Corvi, is to improve what they do every day. That is the real joy in Lean.