There was a controversial video released by the Mexican Government. In the video the phrase Stop complaining appeared, and it was interpreted like the Government was telling the citizens to stop complaining about the different troubles that Mexico faces.
Mexico, as you may be aware, faces a big security crisis. Drug cartels continue to rule the country, Drug Lord Joaquín Guzman escaped from prison a few months ago and the economy isn´t going well. So it is no surprise that everybody has criticised how the government is performing. And when I say everybody, I mean, everybody.
So, thinking about that, last week I heard an interesting coverage on the radio, about competitiveness. The story talked about how NAFTA was supposed to be the ticket for Mexico to go into the Major Leagues. "We are going to be in the first world" the Government said, but nobody told us that in order to do so, we needed to compete against the companies and the products from developed countries. The results, 30 years later, are that we haven´t been able to keep up. We lost the train and missed an incredible opportunity to learn and grow as a society. In the coverage, different examples were given, from Uber and how cab drivers have made demonstrations to put pressure on authorities to stop the fast growing pace Uber is taking, to how Walmart is taking over the market, and how small local marketplaces seem unable to compete with the giant. Most of the small, local companies in México have shut down operations, because they haven´t been able to compete with foreign products. Most recently we`re blaming China.
Where Does Lean fit?
This context reminds me to what every Lean authority explains. Lean is mostly about Respect for people. Allow the people to express themselves, to make suggestions, to allow them to apply those suggestions to improve the process, allow the people to experiment, allow them to learn and evolve and grow.
By doing so, we will be engaging the people in a Continuous improvement cycle that will enable your company or organization to innovate, improve everyday, to become more efficient, safe, fair, organization and at the same time will have the processes to satisfy your customers and actually make money of it. But in order to achieve such ideal state, the employees must participate as well. Contributing with ideas, being open and expressing honestly what it´s going on within daily operations. Here, leaders must respond. After hearing carefully to the employees, leaders must take action. If a worker suggests a change in the process, the leaders must act quickly, reach a consensus and implement rapidly. Otherwise the worker who submitted a suggestion might think that this is only bullshit. And finally the trust is lost, if leaders do not respect, not only by listening, but actually by implementing as well. In this metaphor, this is exactly what the Government has failed to do. To respond to population demands, to reach consensus and of course have failed to rapidly implement.
|Exports of Crude Oil have slowdown in recent years. While|
Imports from US have risen, closing the gap with Mexico. Source: EIA
How ever, citizens and society has failed to take a more active role too. I`m not talking about making a demonstration to demand the government to take action. I`m talking to be more competitive in our jobs, improve the way we live, the way we drive, and the way we act. Competitiveness is the greatest example. Uber is not going away because some cab drivers protest and demand the authorities to stop the company for growing and literally eat the market. Why instead, aren´t they trying to improve the service, security and cost? How much are we responsible for the problems our country is facing? and most important What can we do to revert this situation? In order to embark on a Continuous Improvement Cycle, it is required that leaders as well as workers commit themselves to try at least once. Leaders must commit to listen and to take action. Workers to collaborate, proposed and share their knowledge. Both need commitment to trust on each other. Trust, obviously, is something that needs to be build. But can be attainable if there´s will to accomplish a better future. For companies and for countries.
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