Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
Home » Archive by category 'Lean' (Page 2)

Can #Lean be #positive? Answer from @thegembacoach

Here’s an interesting one from Michael Ballé’s Gemba Coach Column.

Readers of this blog know I’m a big fan of Michael’s thinking. He’s one of the best sensei one can imagine.

Yet, he’s not strength-based in his approach (apart for the “respect for people” which very few seem to understand from him). This latestest column is no different: in trying to make Lean appear positive (as did some other senseis before), Michael stayed in the deficit-based thinking. He’s sticking to the Toyota approach of Lean (which makes wonder wherever it is applied properly, no argument on this) and he explains how looking for, and solving problems can be a positive thing, because it can help people improve their work and achieve a shared purpose to a level that few organizational development initiatives might bring.

Yet, I’m not entirely convinced. Lean can be so much more when viewed from a strength-based perspective.

First of all, problems can be seen as an opportunity of asking oneself when has the problem been less present (if not just totally absent). This is true positive thinking without the need for reframing the situation. In a true positive deviance, one can meditate on the saying that “in any malfunctioning system, something does work properly”. We just have to ask to start searching for, and finding it.

Second, one can put more emphasis on what people would like their system, organisation or process to be. Sure enough, problems happen, meaning, things won’t turn out like we would like them to be. Yet, by accepting this (just like what Michael advocates for), we can just let go of perfection and “make lemonade when life brings us lemons”. If it can be done with problems (solving them when they appear), then why can’t we cease positive opportunities when they happen?

Indeed, I’m still convinced that the PDCA, continuous improvement way to efficiency is the right one to advance. But just like other systems, you can use the loops and feedbacks to run negative or positive paradigms through it (ok, it goes a bit more complicated than this, but I hope you get the point).

So, continue your PDCA and A3 problem solving, but why not next time try to ask about what’s working and what you’re trying to achieve? Why not ask about a time when things worked, at least partially, and what you did that helped make it better? I’m sure you’ll re-discover interesting stuff that you’ll be proud to share with your colleagues, and standardize and teach to others.

But, by building on successes to confirm and reinforce your positive first steps (instead of possibly demotivating problems to solve), you might get more energy to go down the Lean path and more rapidly. Isn’t this an attractive vision to strive for?

Keep us posted on your experiments!


Call for articles on #Strength-based #Lean for @AIPractitioner november 2015!

Do you work on organizational improvements using Lean?

Are you strength-based and connect Appreciative Inquiry, Solution Focus or Positive Deviance to your practice?

We want to hear from you!

Have a look at our call for paper and get in touch!

@thegembacoach Column: #LEAN = #TPS {#KAIZEN + #RESPECT} and I infer from that…

August 26th, 2014 Posted in Lean, Strength Tags: , , ,

Ballé did it again: an excellent blogpost on what Lean is all about: Michael Ballé’s Gemba Coach Column.

Making people think by themselves. Man is this terrifyingly difficult!!!

Yet, on other aspects, people do think by themselves when they really are interested in the thing they want thought through.

That they just don’t think about their work should trigger an alarm in management’s heads about what it to to be a leader and having their people be interested in the work they do.

You obviously can’t force interest. And the more we advance in time, the more the new generations of workers seek interesting, meaning making jobs.

And you can’t exactly know what someone will find meaning in, so my conclusion is:

Let people organize themselves and define meaning as what works best for them.

Strength-based Lean, eh? 😉


Michael Ballé’s @thegembacoach #Lean column: “what is a root cause?” Excellent!

May 30th, 2014 Posted in Lean Tags: , , ,

Michael Ballé’s Gemba Coach Column is about trying to define 1) what is a root cause and 2) how to do 5-Why’s analysis properly.

Very good article and this is a topic barely tackled clearly. I have yet to find root cause analysis being done right (well, apart from those in Lean books of course).



Social constructionism is to #Lean what lecturing is to #Taylorism

I just invented this one…

Of course, that Lean promotes cooperation and co-improvement of the organization (through nemawashi) makes the sentence all the more interesting 😉

All those consultants that try to force Lean down the throat of the managers that, according to them, are too dumb to “get it” are just, IMHO, plain wrong. This is the surest path to “change resistance“. Of course, telling is quicker than letting people experiment and trying to understand things from the perspective of the people.

Yet, if management is supposed to learn how to have their people conduct experiments, and then learn from them, then share them with their colleagues throughout the organization, why on earth are they lecturing and teaching them Lean?! If managers learn anything, that will be to continue in command-and-control mode and impose Lean tools and processes onto employees that won’t necessarily understand the purpose of them. And since the managers don’t know exactly how things happens on the Gemba (of many managers do “standing in the circle” for hours ?), they commands will be just resented as unsuited at best by employees, further decreasing their engagement levels, and the few trust left they might have had in their managers.

Is that really what’s wanted?

Of course, putting on my “Systems Dynamics” hat, I can see that the more consultants do it that way, the less organizations really improve on the long-term, and the more need will be felt for more Lean consulting.

I am not saying that consultants want the situation to be that way. I’m just saying that doing more of the same Lean teaching method will just produce more of the same long-term failed results.

Doing more of the same and expecting different results is the definition of insanity according to Einstein

What’s your best #book about #strategy deployment / #hoshin #kanri in #Lean?

March 18th, 2014 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , ,

The topic says it all. I’ve read (but someone lost it 😉 Pascal Dennis’ “Getting the Right Things Done” and loved it at the time. But before I order the book again, I wondered if there wouldn’t be others worth considering (given that I still remember most of it)?

I did have a quick look a few years ago in “Hoshin Kanri for the Lean Enterprise” by Thomas L. Jackson, but it seemed a bit complicated at the time. But I will welcome any opposing arguments!

Please provide hints in comments below (or through Twitter at @nicolasstampf). Thank you very much!


Glass in half – A #strength-based #Lean perspective compared to other mental models…

March 11th, 2014 Posted in Lean, Strength Tags: , , ,

Someone just posted this on LinkedIn and I thought I might add my own vision of it (I don’t have the original from LeanPost):

half glass




This cartoon lacks a fourth picture, that of the strength-based Lean thinker (besides, does someone around here remember that Lean is indeed a business model [that is, to create value!], and not a cost-cutting program?!)

Woohoo, we already know how to fill half of the glass, and guess what, we still have room to have twice of it. We can do more!

Mail List

Join the mailing list

Check your email and confirm the subscription