“Stop escalating. Make decisions at the lowest level of your organization as possible.”
Identifying what the customer values is so self-explanatory to a business person that I still find it incredible how often I find myself reminding people.
A large part of setting up “lean” is the creation of learning loops. Learning Loops are feedback cycles that quickly allow people to understand if things are going as planned and take action if required. These learning loops need the power to change the process to sit with the person who has the responsibility for that process.
This approach challenges the traditional business models but makes complete sense for companies that want to be more responsive to changes in the market and drive participative management styles. It also means that the person making decisions is closest to the actual process (GEMBA), and the chances are that they have the best knowledge of the activity as well.
People need to feel empowered to make decisions and also be held accountable for the results of any decisions. This links directly to creating an environment where failure is not stigmatized.
So if you are responsible for something, are you also empowered to make changes? If not, it might be time to start challenging more.