We’ve been talking about the role of leadership within the Arizona Management System. Let’s now shift from what leadership is and examine some practical ways it is embodied in agencies where AMS is being deployed.
But before we do, we should pause to reassure ourselves that in the culture of continuous improvement that AMS inspires, we do not blame. We do, however, hold ourselves and others accountable. Such reassurance is necessary because, as we see with any of the AMS core elements, it takes time to learn and apply the lessons in our work. The same is true for our leaders. So, let us be patient and kind even as we hold leaders accountable for practicing their leader standard work.
Leader standard work (LSW) is a leader’s maintenance plan for AMS in their particular agency. Distinct from an activity calendar, LSW represents the leader’s plan for daily, weekly and monthly recurring activities emphasizing AMS, but not to the exclusion of other core, repetitive, operational functions comprising the leader’s “standard work.” As such, LSW is the written depiction of a day, week and month in the life of the given leader.
LSW is documented, in accordance with the standard format chosen by the agency, and visible for all to see. Transparency with LSW, and a leader’s adherence to it, builds accountability and trust within the agency. Anyone should feel comfortable providing the leader meaningful insight into gaps in LSW (i.e., identifying where help is needed,) and peers should be able to compare LSW for similar organizational roles.
The Government Transformation Office, which guides the enterprise-wide deployment of AMS, recommends that LSW, at a minimum, include regular attendance at tiered huddle meetings; one-on-one coaching; gemba walks (i.e., intentional opportunities for leaders to “go and see” how the work is done;) repetitive, operational functions; and frequent, ongoing recognition of successes, as celebration of positive outcomes helps reinforce the agency’s continuous improvement culture.
In addition, LSW should account for the leader’s adherence to daily, weekly and monthly commitments, noting when failure to follow through occurs. This helps build the discipline needed to sustain AMS through deployment by showing in brutal candor that every employee, regardless of rank or role, abides by the system’s requirements. Tracking adherence also compels leaders to effectively countermeasure when they fail to meet commitments.
To date, the italicized elements shown here have been featured in AMS In Focus.