Lean Talent: Stress Latency - the blueprint for 7 Wastes

Lean production methods were designed to create value for the user, not waste. There are 7 types of wastes in industrial production and these can be found in office work, IT, banking, and other service industries. These 7 wastes–central to the Toyota Production System–are well identified in production environments: over-production, waiting, transportation, over-processing, inventory, motion, and defective products. These types of wastes are not generated by variability induced by the nature of materials. Instead, these are primarily created by the human mind and the actions people take. Losses due to waste are produced unconsciously, from the very beginning, at the mental design stage. 

People know what seems “normal” to them. They have a clear idea in mind of what constitutes this idea of normal. So, when someone designs something (a device, an idea, a plan to achieve an outcome) they do so in a way that satisfies this, a “personal normality” so to speak. People will unconsciously push toward this personal normality in just about anything they design. This unconscious push will manifest itself in relation to 9 areas of focus (these will be covered elsewhere). But, this push can also be a coping mechanism in stress. This becomes an area in which the design, based on this personal normality, can introduce waste, even in the design itself.  

The behavior of someone who is under stress is often not about spending personal energy efficiently, or even finding the optimal way to solve a technical or human problem. Instead, their behavior is designed to be consistent with their "personal truth." This is manifested in their language. Also, it’s usually well accepted culturally since the person developed their personal truth based on culturally acceptable criteria. They then can justify it by themselves, but also believe it to be “normal” in their cultural context. Someone who drives their car aggressively may actually like the rush of adrenaline, which leads to them naturally justifying their driving behavior, regardless of the additional expense on high gas consumption, frequent replacement of parts and even the risks that come with driving too aggressively. 

These "personal truths" aren’t truly active in the vast majority of cases, in ordinary situations. They are stored in the unconscious and become active in situations where a stress stimulus is present; when an external trigger activates the stress response. This is well studied in physiology. We have an entire endocrine system with one aim: to save you, automatically and unconsciously, when there is a perceived threat. These threats (real or not) are stored and incorporated into our memory based on specific experiences. The conscious memory itself is known as an explicit memory. We call the unconscious part–the body or muscle memory–an implicit memory. These implicit memories create the automatic responses in stress situations. 

As we grow and experience more of these reactions, we think about them, talk about them with ourselves and others, and develop those personal truths in the form of beliefs. We organize these around people, situations and things and they build into a system. As I mentioned earlier, we’ve identified 9 key areas where our thinking patterns may be observed in stressful situations.

Using statistical methods, we’ve identified what it means to have a “Resilient Mind” in response to these stress situations. We’ve also identified two levels of what we term “Stress Latency.” By this we mean responses that lie dormant and are only triggered in stressful situations. We see these become active when someone is put into a situation that requires a quick response–when “thinking” is too slow to engage effectively. 

These responses can be most precisely determined through sophisticated physiological measurements such as galvanic skin response, EEG, ECG, hormone level tests and the like. Impractical, of course. But we’ve developed a simpler way: The IMDE Stress Profile based on the 9 key patterns we’ve mentioned, which correspond to the 9 key areas in our "Vision Companion" coaching model used in our Lean Talent Development programs. 

Given two sides of a coin, we have the "Latent Stress Response" and on the other side of the coin, we have the "High Potential" mode of operations. Potential generally refers to a currently unrealized ability. It is the place where the other key concept comes into play: talent. Talent is about the unique features a person possesses. Potential is about the capability of developing them into the actuality.

This year we introduced an innovative scientific methodology to bridge the gap from a "stress latency" state to a "high potential" state. This is based on high frequency feedback loops used in changing these mindsets. This is a prerequisite for the advanced part of the program named, “Lean Talent Development" where a double loop "Continuous Improvement" + "Agility and Talent Developer MindSet" is activated.

You can read more on this topic here:
Lean Talent: Value by Resilient mindset or waste by Stress mindset
Lean Talent: how we create (more) value
Lean Talent: Agility to Meet Sustainability

About the Author, Cătălin Zaharia: M.D., E.C.P., B.Eng., Professional Coach

Since 2004 has worked with the principles of TOTE and later consulted with board members and coached top management teams in using PDCA in continuous improvement initiatives. He has an extensive background in organizing training and coaching programs for 100’s of managers in being more effective in Lean projects. Cătălin has graduate degrees in Health Care Management and BioMedical Informatics and completed his medical degree with a residency in Psychiatry. Currently, Cătălin is practicing, teaching and conducting research in neuro-linguistic psychotherapy, and is a business consultant and coach.