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New Year Questions (#SolutionFocus #Change)

Coert Visser did a nice article about Solution Focus based questions for a new year. I’d like to build on them and propose my own, in the hope that it could positively improve any change initiative you’re a part of (or a leader).

From your customers’ point of view

  • What pleased your customers last year? What else?
  • How did you provided that to them? What else?
  • How could you make more of that?
  • What first step can you take right not to make more of that? What smaller step can you make? Even smaller?
  • Imagine your customers coming in and asked you straight what they really want. What would they ask? What else?
  • How are you going to provide it? What first step do you need to make, now, to provide it?

From your employees’ point of view

Manager to employees

  • What made your employees happy last year?
  • How could they achieve this?
  • How can you help them make more of it?
  • What are they thriving for?
  • What would make them soar?
  • What impact would them soaring could have on yourself? On your business?
  • What small step can you make right now to start building that preferred future of them?
  • What first thing will your employees notice that you changed in order to bring them more thriving opportunities in their work?
  • What strengths did you notice in each of your employees? How is s/he using them? What prevents them from using these strengths more thoroughly and more often? How could you help that? What first step do you see you doing now to help that strength liberation?

Employees to management

  • What made you happy last year?
  • How did you do it?
  • How could you make more of it?
  • What worked well in your relations with your management? How did you do it? What else? How could you do more of it?

From a process (system) point of view

  • What worked well last year? What else?
  • How did the organization make it happen?
  • How could you do more of it? What else?
  • What first step could you do right now to do more of it?

Ok, I guess you got the point. Feel free to propose more questions below!

Happy new year everyone!

#TWI used #SolutionFocus approach in “how to get continuing results”! (#Lean)

Currently re-reading TWI‘s “how to get continuing results”, I stumbled upon this paragraph:

To get appropriate action on this fundamental [Assign Responsibility for Getting Continuing Results], the TWI representative might get a decision by raising such questions as these:

 (a)  “How do you now inform your executive and supervisory organization of a new responsibility – or a new policy – or a new requirement? What change have you had recently where you had to get detailed information across to your supervisors (such as new procedures under your wage agreement, or change of manufacturing method, or change in production methods)? How did you get the results you wanted?

(b)  “Will a similar procedure be adequate to get continued results in the case of JI, JM or JR?”

The new responsibilities mentioned above are the following ones:

The sponsoring executive must make it clear to the members of the executive and supervisory staff that they are responsible for results. To get continuing results, each executive and supervisor must:

  • use the plan himself.
  • provide assistance to those who report to him.
  • require results of those who report to him.

Question (a) is clearly a “what works here?” question in a typical Solution Focus approach. Then it is inquired with question (b) whether this approach could be used for getting continuing use of the methods.

It’s marvelous that in 1944 already, TWI knew that it’s better for change management to build on current practices rather than create something new.

It’s also interesting to note that the “continuing use” of the J programs was supposed to be done through 1) coaching and 2) coaching from line management (not dedicated coaches).

How are you assuring continuing use of your Lean programs? Is it building on current managerial practices?

#SolutionFocus responses to “What You Can Say To Kill Ideas” | Productivity Improvement (#Lean)

There’s this article I’ve just read here: What You Can Say To Kill Ideas | Productivity Improvement. I haven’t been in the Lean business for long, but I feel like I’ve already encountered all of them. Sigh.

I think I can give it a try at Solution-focusing it. Let’s go!

  1. Don’t be ridiculous. So you think some of these things won’t work. What part of it can you think we can start with that will work?
  2. We tried that before. Great! What worked that we could put back in place? What have you learned so we do it differently this time?
  3. It costs too much. Of course I don’t have your expertise on the operational stuff. What part can you think could be done cheaper?
  4. It can’t be done. What part can’t be done? What part can be done? When can we start?
  5. What’s beyond our/your responsibility. What part is under your responsibility? What are the smaller parts that cna be started right now? How have you succeeded to get management approval for other things? How could we apply the same solutions here?
  6. It’s too radical a change. Agreed, you can’t make such a big leap in one time. What small part do you want to start with?
  7. We don’t have the time. What have you the time for, currently? What can we temporarily drop and replace with some small parts of this?
  8. That will make other equipment obsolete. Great, I haven’t think of this: further improvements. What other improvements do you see?
  9. We’re too small/big for it. Surely. What needs to be adapted to our size? How would you change it?
  10. That’s not our problem. Ok. Who’s problem is this? How have you succeded in the past in bringing similar problems to their knowledge and get both os us to work them out? How could we repeat the same process here?
  11. We’ve never done it before. That’s true. Let’s do it, where do you want to start?
  12. Let’s get back to reality. What part do you feel don’t fit into current reality? What could be changed to make them fit? What about other parts, can we give them a try? 
  13. Why change it; it’s still working OK. Of course things are working already (indeed, the company’s still in business). I guess there are probably part of the organization already doing this future state map. Can you see them? How can we make more of them?
  14. You’re two years ahead of your time. So are some of our competitors. What in this plan is already (maybe partly) being done that we could build on?
  15. We’re not ready for that. You’re already doing part of that. Let’s get figure and ask the people.
  16. It isn’t in the budget. That’s fine, we’re going to self-finance this anyway. Where can we start today?
  17. Can’t teach old dogs new tricks. This is not necessary. Look closer, what have you already been doing? What have you noticed in this plan that you always dreamt to be able to do? Let’s go!
  18. Do the best you can with what you’ve got. That’s my motto too and probably your people’s too. What best to they want for them, the customers and the company? What have you noticed they’re doing superbely despite current work conditions? How can we remove these barriers?
  19. Too hard to sell. What part is to hard to sell? What about cutting this in pieces and going progressively? Where do we start? Have you sold similar challenging things in the past? How did you do it? How could we adapt that here?
  20. Top management would never go for it. What are we already doing that works? Could we show that to management as a proof of concept? What small experiment can we try on our own to demonstrate it’s viable?
  21. We’ll be the laughing stock. And a model for all others. How can we present this differently, then?
  22. Let’s shelve it for the time being. I understand some of it to be too big a leap for you. What specific part can start with? Maybe cut this into smaller pieces to begin with?
  23. We did all right without it. Great! On seeing this plan, what part do you see having done already? What further improvement do you notice in the plan could further improve your already good performance?
  24. Has anyone else ever tried it? Probably, and I think the people in your department have for some part of it. Can you help us point which part is already in place (albeit maybe only partly)? For the other parts, it’s currently done in other places. Would you like me to arrange an appointment with one of our competitors to show us how they’re doing better?
  25. It won’t work in our industry. What part do you see not doable in our industry? What would make it doable?
  26. Will you guarantee it will work? I guarantee you that if we try these things, we’ll learn something that will help your people improve their process.
  27. That’s the way we’ve always done it. Fantastic! What part have you always done already? What other part can we start working on, then? What prevents you from doing it absolutely all the time with 100% success? Can we start working on providing more of this better working conditions to you and your people?
  28. What we have is good enough. What do you have? How is it good? You’re the one to decide in the end, but can we just imagine what would happen if this plan were to be implemented? How would that further improve your current situation?
  29. But we would also have to change the___________. cf. 8
  30. It’s in our future plans. Excellent! What part have you planned already? What small tasks can we do to start now?
  31. We’ll have somebody study that problem. You’re taking this very seriously, that’s great. We’ll arrange to work through it with someone of your department for the details. What parts would you like to start with? Who are we going to see?
  32. It’s against our policy. Which policy? This policy’s here for some good reasons. Glad you noticed. What part is against the policy? What other parts can we start already? What would need to change to make that part conform to the policy? Have you got policy changed in the past because they hindered change? How have you achieved it? Can we do it again for this stuff?
  33. The supplier would never do that. You’d be surprised how much they’re probably doing this already. Let’s go and see them!
  34. The customer wouldn’t accept that. I may have missed something on the customer part: can you tell me which one and what need to change? What acceptable other parts of this plan can we start working on now?
  35. When did you become the expert? I’m not: you and your people are the experts, this is just a theoretical roadmap that needs to be worked with your people. Where do we start now?

My main focus points during these rewording was to keep in mind:

  • resistance surely is because I don’t have requisite variety when proposing a plan to change: so I need to let the people / managers adapt it
  • keep being oriented toward solutions: people are very probably already doing some parts of the future state map: find out which and build on it

I assumed a top managers wanting to move fast forward, so my reframing always has been somewhat pushy. Another approach could have been to be not to push at all and let the manager whether he wants to change or not. See my Solution Focus / Motivational Interviewing Series for such an approach.

Comments welcomed!

 

 

Reblog: The change sparsity principle in #solutionfocus organizational change (also #Lean)

Here’s another excellent blog article from Coert Visser about Solution FocusDoing What Works: Forward in Solution-Focused Change: The change sparsity principle in solution-focused organizational change.

It reminds us that “continuous improvement” really must be “continuous”. Small steps, and not always big bang kaizen or kaikaku workshops!

Also, Lean already knows that: a work standard is the best way to do a job at a certain time. It’s deemed to be changed and improved as soon as someone finds a new better way (a solution!) to do it. When that’s been found, the standard is updated.

How could have we made Lean and Kaizen threatening for people (despite advocating a “respect for people”)?!

This question is deficit-based because I try to dig a problem. A better question would probably be “when had we experienced non-threatening change that was welcomed by people?

I think my experience of Lean until now may have been too fast with respect to these I was supposed to coach. Of course, I had to deal with management eager to see results. But isn’t it a situation where “to move slowly is to advance faster”?

I need to try this!

(I’m whining here, but I need to admit that I’ve already tried a coaching stance of not pushing forward, like the one in Motivational Interviewing (see my SFMI Lean series) and had quite some success).

I know from a long time that I’m the one that need to change with respect to Lean coaching. Boy is this difficult sometimes! 🙂

 

How to address Action stage of Lean change – #5 in SFMI #Lean series

This article is #5 in a Series about using Solution Focus and Motivational Interviewing to coach CEOs into starting their own Lean journey.

#1 in series gave a broad-brush view of what I intended to write about. Please read it first.

#2 in series addressed the precontemplation stage of change.

#3 in series helped reinforce the contemplation stage.

#4 in series is for supporting the preparation stage.

This article deals with the next stage of change: that of Action!

Background on Action

In the preceding stages of change, you first developed an understanding in the CEO’s mind that someone had to change and that it was him. Then you helped him (or her!) prepare for the change (see previous article on preparation). Now, the change is ongoing and you need to support the CEO during the Action stage of change.

During this stage, the role of the coach is to support the CEO in achieving whatever goal he set for him or herself by: Read more »

What Steve Jobs can teach us in order to really appreciate systems?

Here is a very nice article from The Personal Excellence Blog. I will just recall the 11 points made over there:

  1. Life is what you make it out to be
  2. Dream big – very big
  3. The greatest things started somewhere
  4. Certifications don’t matter
  5. Live every day like it is your last
  6. Stop listening to what others say
  7. Do not underestimate the impact you can have on the world
  8. Failure only happens when you deem it to be so
  9. Do what you love
  10. Have faith – Never lose hope
  11. Outdo yourself – Over, and over again

Isn’t this a near perfect mix of Appreciative Inquiry and Solution Focus?

I’ve read elsewhere that you need to always think big because lower and mid-levels are already crowded. There’s still room available at the most higher levels: it might be easier to play big than to make room for yourself in mediocrity.

Let me rewrite the list by adding the powerful concepts at play underneath:

  1. Life is what you make it out to be – constructivism, appreciative inquiry
  2. Dream big – very big – constructivismappreciative inquiry
  3. The greatest things started somewhere – solution focus (smallest next action)
  4. Certifications don’t matter – strengths
  5. Live every day like it is your last – Buddha also said: and learn as if you would never die
  6. Stop listening to what others say – be active in constructivism, don’t let others construct you!
  7. Do not underestimate the impact you can have on the world – constructivism again: your questions are fateful, appreciative inquiry as well
  8. Failure only happens when you deem it to be so – constructivism!
  9. Do what you love – what else? Solution focus also
  10. Have faith – Never lose hope – constructivism though indirectly: when you want something strong enough, the universe will conspire to make it happen (recalled from memory, Paulo Coelho)
  11. Outdo yourself – Over, and over again – constructivism as well: think big and it’ll happen to you because you’ll construct the world accordingly.

Thanks Celes for writing this excellent article!

 

#GTD and #SolutionFocus: doing what works for you!

September 28th, 2011 Posted in GTD, Solution Focus Tags: ,

In this somewhat different post from what I’m used to publish, I’d like to give some highlight on Getting Things Done (GTD) which I’m practicing since 2006 (5 years as of today!) which unbeatable success.

GTD is an approach (some say a method) to personal productivity which allows you to get things done without the traditional accompanying stress (hence its subtitle: “stress free productivity“). I need to say this is absolutely true and GTD changed my life for the better!

Now, a lot of people are reluctant to doing GTD because they feel it overwhelming: lots of lists, lots of writing stuff down (or entering in a PDA or smartphone) and, in the end, lots of thinking. That’s true. Yet, when one think of it, there’s nothing new as compared to what people are usually doing when they’re starting to feel stressed by their work (beside, home stuff is still some work to do).

Indeed, I claim that GTD is the result of applying the principles of Solution Focus to personal productivity and stress reduction techniques.

On Actions

What do people do when they feel overwhelmed by all the stuff they need to do?

They write it down onto lists!

And what increases the chances of an Action to be done? That there is no thinking left as to what needs to be done. Hence the stress on Next physical actions as opposed to just “stuff” written done on a list. Stuff isn’t done, actions are.

On Lists

What do people do when they have too much of different things?

They make different lists!

Do you write your shopping list on the same page as your office lists or on your gardening list? Probably not, because you create lists that depend on Contexts: stuff that you can only activate when in the proper context.

With respect to gardening, should you need some fertilizer, chances are you’ll note it on your shopping list and put “Spread fertilizer” on your gardening list.

This is exactly what GTD urges you to do…

  • Contexts (and Agenda) lists are used to separate actions that can’t be done because they mandate different places, tools or people
  • Someday/maybe list is some things you don’t need to see often but need to store somewhere nonetheless
  • Waiting For lists are to be reviewed to remind people (or yourself) of pending stuff so that your brain doesn’t have to remember that all the time
  • Calendar is a special form of context where you note actions (“meetings”) at specific dates and times to be automatically reminded when they’re due

On Outcomes

How many times have you been asked in business settings to apply the SMART criteria to tasks and objectives? This is exactly what GTD asks you when you’re asked to think about the Outcome of your Actions and Projects (or to your Horizons of Focus on a different level).

On Projects

When it comes to projects, all that GTD advocates for is to gather all project related stuff into one place and write Next Actions to the context they belong to (ie, what is most efficient to ensure they’ll be done).

On Horizons of Focus

Horizons of Focus is just GTD way of sorting the short from medium and long-term stuff. What you want to get done now depends on where you want to be later. So one’s has better to identify that later as soon and as clearly as possible before going in the wrong direction (which is demoralizing so say the least and hinder doing of actions)

On Review

We all know life’s full of surprises and sometimes you get caught in the whirl of life. You get lost with yourself. So, what works for re-centering yourself? Reviewing of course!

  • review of your lists (to mark what’s been done)
  • emptying your head again to get clear
  • review your horizons of focus to stay current with where you want to go

Frankly, in 5 years of GTD, I’ve never found the system unbearable or some kind of lists useless. I may not use all contexts (I don’t use Phone for instance) and my Errands-for-tonight-after-work ends up as a Post-It™ in my shirt jacket, but all of GTD is useful and easy to do (also here by David Allen himself)!

GTD is nothing that you’re not already doing by yourself, systematized.

Positive #GROW #coaching model? (using #solutionfocus and #appreciativeinquiry)

“Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” — Henri Ford

Reading some background information on the GROW coaching model, it appeared to me that it could easily be transformed into a positive change model.

GROW originally stands for:

It’s indeed a very simple and effective coaching model to be used. Yet, I feel that it can be enhanced by focusing more on the positive side and what works already for the coachee in order to bring more energy to fuel the change. Here are my thoughts on how to do it below. Read more »

How to address Preparation stage of Lean change – #4 in SFMI #Lean series

This article is #4 in a Series about using Solution Focus and Motivational Interviewing to coach CEOs into starting their own Lean journey.

#1 in series gave a broad-brush view of what I intended to write about. Please read it first.

#2 in series addressed the precontemplation stage of change.

#3 in series help reinforce the contemplation stage.

This article deals with the next stage of change: that of Contemplation.

Background on preparation

Following the preceding stages of change, if you’re reading this, it would mean that your CEO is now ready to change himself. Indeed, I remind the occasional reader that the beginning of this series was about having the CEO realize that he was the first person that needed to change. Most CEO know their organization need to change to implement Lean, but they usually don’t expect to change themselves. Yet, if they continue to do what they’ve always done, they’ll get what they always had.

So, the most critical part before being allowed to the preparation stage is that the CEO expressed Commitment to change talk, following MI questions aiming at raising DARN talk (Desire, Ability, Reasons and Need). That was the purpose of articles #2 and #3.

So, the CEO being now committed to change himself, the most important tasks during this stage for the MI coach are to:

  • build confidence in the change to come
  • talk about timing of change
  • present information, options and advice

All the while

  • resisting the urge to push by staying at the client’s place (or pace)

Lean role of CEO

This stage of change differs from preceding ones in that the CEO is expected to build an action plan for the change. There are two possibilities with that:

  1. either he knows how to “behave Lean”
  2. or he doesn’t

I have two responses to these situations, non exclusives and not related specifically to #1 or #2:

  • comfort him that he knows how to do it
  • teach him what he doesn’t know…

With that second point, it’s important to notice we’re still trying to avoid raising his resistance to the change, so any advice or teaching need either:

  • be formally requested by him
  • or gently introduced and asked for permission to tell before telling: “I know a way to achieve that. Would you like me to present it?” It’s also important to note that we’re not behaving as having a definitive knowledge or advice: we want the CEO to adapt what we say to his specific organization and make it his own.

It is now important to recall that Lean is mostly about empowering collaborators to spot problems and imagine solutions that they implement, measure and generalize (standardize in Lean terms) where appropriate, with maximum colleague implications. This is basic PDCA and scientific method.

We certainly don’t want the CEO to solve problems on behalf of employees, for that would prevent them from learning (and he doesn’t have time for that anyway).

The role of a Lean CEO is to coach, on the gemba, his middle managers into coaching, on the gemba, their employees into the scientific method (PDCA) in order to move current processes to a vision of one-piece-flow.

The purpose of this article is not to detail how to do that (they are shelves full of literature on that topic). Suffice it to say that, for instance, D. Jones and J. Womack approach is useful to keep in mind:

  1. identify value
  2. identify value-stream
  3. create flow
  4. pull
  5. aim for perfection

And the two tactics to get there are:

  1. just-in-time
  2. and jidoka (autonomation or automation with a human touch)

This is the strategy the CEO need to have in mind, down to employees and through middle management as well. Always, all the time. This is summed up as 1) continuous improvement with 2) respect for people.

Preparation

So, the main strategy of the coach will be to help the CEO identify what behavior he needs to adopt in order for his people (middle management) to do what he wants them to do in order to do Lean. The what are: continuously, improve, respect and people. The how is what works for the CEO. So, most of the following questions are Solution Focused oriented on purpose.

With this in mind, here are some tentative questions, MI-style, to ask a CEO preparing his own change for some more Lean behaviors (be reminded that it’s always possible to mentor the CEO into Lean knowledge, provided he asks for it or gives you permission to do so – what we want is genuine interest in continuous improvement: Lean tools are only shortcuts to be used where, when and if people want to use them):

  • recalling preceding transformations/projects you managed successfully, what worked well in terms of your own behaviors for having them move on?
  • how do these compare to your current management practices?
  • what first steps would you see yourself doing first? Can you make these smaller? And even smaller? And, of these last ones, what even smaller step could you start doing right now?
  • what other behavior will you start doing tomorrow? What else? 
  • what else?
  • what will you see improve as a result? What else?
  • what is the place in your organization where continuous improvement would benefit more as a starter? What’s been your behavior toward it recently? How would you go about changing it? How will you measure results?
  • suppose a miracle open overnight (without you knowing it since you were sleeping) and all middle-management would adopt Lean behaviors. How would you know in the morning that things have changed? What would you notice first? What would you do to support it?
  • on a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your current management practices regarding continuous improvement? Why not a lesser number? What are you doing that makes you give this score? What else?
  • on a scale from 1 to 10, how important is it for you to change your own behavior? Why not a lower number? What else?
  • on a scale from 1 to 10, how ready are you to starting implementing your new behaviors? Why not a lower number? What else?

Should you have comments on these questions, or other suggestions, feel free to leave a message below!

Stay tuned for #5 episode that will be about the Action phase.

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