In yesterdayt's article, I said that leaders, managers and employees had to avoid five common mindsets that could lower productivity.

The first was that solving problems in the organisation was the responsibility of leaders and managers — thereby denying rank-and-file workers the opportunity to contribute.

The second was that any organisational change had to be big and impactful at the same time. The reality was that change, one step at a time, could be equally impactful and easier for employees to accept.

The remaining three negative mindsets to avoid are:

“We carry out periodic improvement projects.”

Many of us think of improvement as something that occurs periodically, like a project or a campaign.

During such periods, we make an extra effort to improve or change when the need becomes urgent.

The reality is that for every improvement project that ends, it is not able to sustain its results, hence there will be a need for another project to build on the previous results.

In Figure A, there is a drop in improvement levels immediately after a project ends.

To prevent such a pattern from negating the efforts put in, standards have to be in place to maintain the progress made.

Standards refer to a new set of routines that everyone has to follow to work more efficiently.

By making standards visual and simple to understand, employees will find it easier to avoid going back to their old habits.

The best way to counter drops in progress would be to have an easy-to-use system for continuous improvement.

“It’s not my problem.”

How often have we heard the phrase, “This is not my department’s job”?

Traditional operational models place people in very specific roles.

For example, an administrative manager may concern himself with duties such as ordering stationery supplies and the smooth running of the department, while a purchaser’s main objective is to buy an item with the lowest price.

They may not count helping customers with a query as their business — try Customer Service instead.

This “us-versus-them” mentality hurts the company in the long run.

Selling a product or a service involves a string of departments working together.

Instead of categorising people according to their function, gather a team of employees with different expertise and skills and let them be responsible for a particular product or service.

A cross-functional team will emerge with a common objective: to make, market and sell the best product to customers. This will link efforts across divisions and avoid a silo mentality.

“We’ll deal with that later.”

Problems, no matter how small, should be dealt with as soon as possible.

For example, if problems at the design stage are not solved, the customer will be disappointed when defects are discovered in the final product.

There will be some rework required, not to mention the damage to the company’s brand and reputation.

To avoid such situations, employees need to be able to identify abnormalities and remove them as soon as possible.

One of the basic foundations of Lean Management is called 5S, a methodology for organising the workplace.

Many often confuse this with general housekeeping, but it is far more than that.

It is a very useful problem-identifying tool that, when used in the proper manner, can help detect problems before they escalate.

Rise above the competition

You or the people in your organisation may be holding these negative mindsets that impact its productivity.

If your organisation wants to rise above the competition, it needs to start changing the way it runs its daily operations. Being complacent results in lost opportunities to improve and win your customers’ loyalty. 


Article by Nathaniel Ong, a Lean Practitioner at Right Impact Training. For details, visit or e-mail