Four Ways Our Wabash Management System Principles Facilitate Inclusion

  • Culture
  • Diversity & Inclusion
by Claire Haggard, Wabash Management System, Enterprise Manager | Dec 11, 2020

This year, Wabash National formally introduced the Wabash Management System (WMS)—a set of principles and standardized business processes to advance Wabash National’s strategy, breakthrough improvement and increased magnitude of results.

WMS is guided by five key principles. These principles are centered around lean thinking and state that lean application must extend across and throughout our entire enterprise, not only our manufacturing processes. This means we must consider lean in non-traditional settings, such as improving our culture.

During a leadership summit this year, 36% of Wabash leaders rated our leadership principle of Embrace Diversity and Inclusion as good or excellent. This is impactful because our other principles, such as Win Together and Seek to Listen, depend on our ability to demonstrate an inclusive culture. So how do we use lean thinking to be more inclusive? Here are four ways we can use WMS principles to facilitate inclusion.

Leaders must believe that waste is present in every part of our business.
Removing waste from a process helps employees feel welcomed, known and valued. Don’t wait until you have statistical data to make changes. Lean leaders look for ways to eliminate wastes of unevenness and unreasonableness, often hidden in simple process flows or policy. Take a policy example of allowing HR questions to be submitted via our Wabash@Work employee app. The waste of excess motion was eliminated. But the real win is knowing employees don’t have to walk to a physical HR office in the rain, which helps them feel like a valued member of the team.

Our WMS must ensure a balance between our employees, customers and shareholders.
Leaders who demonstrate this principle well show they care in a balanced way. When developing the rolling business process, a breakthrough strategic priority for Wabash, Finance Director Anna Brown was able to use WMS tools to promote an inclusive working environment. After the first trial of the rolling business process, she knew continuous improvement was necessary. She used a WMS tool called the Value Proposition Canvas to listen to the voice of the customer—in this case, other employees. She truly wanted to understand each customer’s pains, gains and needs prior to making changes to the financial model. By involving others, such as members of the operations finance team, the entire team felt valued and connected to the changes. In the end, the team implemented a realistic solution that satisfied all internal customers. Listening to the voice of the customer is a great way to show care while maintaining the integrity of the project to deliver to stakeholders.

We will not achieve high levels of growth and hit breakthrough performance without stretching ourselves.
A huge part of inclusive lean leadership is creating a safe environment to talk about red key performance indicators (KPIs). Not just to hold employees accountable for the red underperforming metrics but to recognize when additional resources are needed. Employees should celebrate discussions surrounding red metrics that lead to actions, such as strategic training or a kaizen approach to gain insights from additional minds. These are discussions that drive enterprise growth. If you ever walk up to a balanced scorecard board covered in green, it could be an indicator that people are afraid of red reactions. Set aggressive KPIs, celebrate the red and fight to turn the board green together as a team—then reset those KPIs for a tougher challenge! 

Every leader must actively seek to acknowledge and celebrate success.
Lean culture leads to continuous improvement, growth and change. In order to create breakthrough change, our people inside the organization must live and breathe the WMS principles. Culture is generally intangible and hard to measure. By simply celebrating lean success as it occurs, leaders create a tangible sense of community and connection which promotes inclusion. Our employee app makes it easy to celebrate these wins and create community. It’s free to send a kudos to a coworker, write an app post celebrating a team demonstrating WMS principles, or recognize a key contributor by asking them to present a project. We strive to celebrate our wins together as one team.

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