Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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What’s your #1 #Lean tool? I vote for #compassion

February 22nd, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , ,

This is not a real Lean tool per se, but I’d say Compassion:

  • compassion from management toward employees to help them get out of these messy processes and improve their work;
  • compassion for the poor customer that have to deal with a malfunctioning product or service;
  • compassion for the top management for themselves that need to cope with a dysfunctional company when it could be made flourishing and have all people, from top management to lower level employees thrive at work…

What about you?

Reblog: #Toyota’s Recall Crisis: What Have We Learned? – Jeffrey Liker

February 16th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , ,

This is an excellent article from Jeffrey Liker about the (end of) Toyota crisis about their supposed gas and brake pedals problems.

Toyota’s Recall Crisis: What Have We Learned? – Jeffrey Liker – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

Besides, I’ve always thought, regarding this crisis, about what Deming would have said regarding common cause and special cause problems. Indeed, given the long track of excellent quality at Toyota, any problem suspected to come from the company would not nominate it for being bad with respect to quality, as tragic as the accidents had been.

At least (and this is what occurred), these obviously special cause accidents (from a statistical point of view) needed deep investigation, which has been done (read the well documented article of Jeffrey Liker above).

Reblog: #SOLUTIONFOCUSED CHANGE: The word ‘talent’

Here is an excellent and well researched blog article: SOLUTION FOCUSED CHANGE: The word ‘talent’. There are reports on the fact that talent and intelligence may be grown and that confidence in this growing possibility actually make it more effective.

This is in line with other work on systems thinking and systemic therapy (from Palo Alto’s mental research institute and the work of, for instance, Gregory Bateson and Paul Watzlawick).

Of course, Solution Focus is an approach with roots in these works, so the article on this blog should not come as a surprise :-). I’m currently reading that book, by the way and created the corresponding category on the blog, because I think I’m going to invest more time in this!

What also strikes me is the link with experience. Aren’t we in the field of Constructionism? Isn’t it what the Thinking Production System (aka Toyota production System, TPS or Lean) is also all about?

  • Plan an experiment to learn something
  • Do
  • Check the result and seek to understand the results
  • Act / Adjust as a consequence

So, not only did Taiichi Ohno enforced doing and having experiences, he also enforced thinking out the results to ensure learning did occur (this is hansei in japanese). In effect, this probably raised intelligence of workers and he didn’t know it at that time (though he probably knew that people not doing things were indeed dumb, given the low opinion he had about most managers! 😉

#Lean historical document: #TWI Complete program for a plant

In the myriad of documents produced by the TWI during World War 2, there’s a one page synthesis of what a “TWI Complete program for a plant” ought to be (you can see this document in the files section of the Yahoo TWI discussion group).

What’s important to me in this document is that it highlights some key points about the specific roles of TWI and Plant Management in implementing the TWI training programs.

I get a lot of insights in these documents about why lean may not stick in today’s organizations and how we could change this (indeed, the way TWI devised their management contact procedures would behelpful for any kind of change program!). Of course, the context is really different nowadays than during war 60 years ago, but these points still are important. They probably are even more important now than formerly in order to secure change because current context may not be seen as urgent.

The aforementioned document has three parts, of which I’m only quoting the first and the last:

  1. What T.WI.I does
  2. What the TWI programs are (not quoted here)
  3. What the plant does

What T.W.I. does

  • Present TWI complete program – to top management
  • and Demonstrates program methods – to middle management
  • Starts program in the plant – for first level management
  • Checks program results – with all levels of management

What’s striking me in this section is that all levels of management get a chance to acquaint themselves with TWI programs. By this, one can ensure that:

  • top management knows what it’s all about (eases sponsoring)
  • middle management deeply knows what it is (prevents resistance and eases sponsoring)
  • results are followed at all levels to ensure that the TWI programs are kept on top of the stack in management’s head

What the plant does

  • Top management – authorizes programs and plans use (accepts training as an operating function at all levels. Designates […] coordinator)
  • Middle management – Promotes understanding and gives support (arranges convenient schedules for employee coverage)
  • First-level management – Starts training in basic supervisor skills (improves supervisory skills by continuiing use – Follow-through)
  • All levels of management – Check production results

Here, we can see that TWI fostered deep commitment from top management. Not only did the programs were sold, TWI also got top management to understand and take action to recognize that training was indeed part of management job in operating functions. Also, with a coordinator designated by top management, the work can continue without taking too much time of the sponsor, avoiding the risk of him getting upset by constant dragging into programs details.

Next, middle management, often being seen as a source of (change) resistance is here given an active role in supporting and planning the program. This is a way to both appeal to every management person’s will to help others (something I’m deeply convinced: people do want to contribute to others and to something bigger than themselves) and to ensure that the program is well fitted to each and every specifics of all departements of the company. Nobody’s overlooked in the process and everybody gets a change to contribute. From a systems thinking point of view, one could say that TWI complete program for a plant had requisite variety!

As for first-level management, it is clearly stated that their role will be to put the programs in continuiing use (for there is no results otherwise). There are other TWI documents related to how Follow-Through is supposed to be done.

And lastly, all levels of management need to check production results. That’s not a check of how many people were trained, but really a check of what kind of production improvements were done by way of TWI programs: increased production, man-hours saved, reduction in training time – tool breakage – scrap – grievances. So, in the end, it should be clear in everybody’s head that TWI helps solve production problems, as defined and viewed by all management levels in the company.

(The document is dated February 10, 1944, so it’s not modern rocket science!)

I hope this review of one of TWI documents will shed light on their training program efficiency and that you took some ideas home for improving your own change and lean programs.

I plan to comment on other TWI documents, so stay tuned!

Using “The Task Order Up!” from @daveseah to do #Lean #kanban

February 14th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , ,

I sometimes takes the time to go check David Seah’s website. He’s a talentuous e-Designer with a strong personal interest in productivity and organization matters.

Seeing his latest version of The Task Order Up! (TOU) made me thought that it could very well be used for some (Personal or not) Kanban.

In Personal Kanban, tasks are usually elementary and can move quickly through the kanban. With TOU, what you’ve got is more like a Project that needs to be detailed on the form.

If someone makes use of this, please let us know here (comments below)!

Also, you might be interested in other productivity tools David created.

Reblog: MichaĂ«l BallĂ© “The Trouble with #Lean Experts”

This month column of MichaĂ«l BallĂ© on is very interesting (well, like all of what Michael writes!) and deals with Lean experts and the change resistance they’re creating and how to overcome this.

I can’t help but relate this to TWI. If I may remind readers of this blog, TWI setup 4 training programs and worked hard to develop companies at helping themselves:

  • instruct a job (job instruction-JI)
  • improve a job (job methods-JM)
  • maintain good relations with workers (job relations-JR)
  • build a training program (program development-PD)

Indeed, relations at work was of such paramount importance for TWI that they turned it to a whole training program (JR).

But, more important to me is the fact that in almost all of TWI documents, one can read between the lines and see that keeping good working relationships with people was something deemed important.

Michaël reminds us that LEAN = KAIZEN + RESPECT. All too often are we and our own management focused on the KAIZEN part, to the detriment of RESPECT. Indeed, respect is most often not even in the mind of people doing the work. The Lean Promotion Office is often seen as a team of consultants that come and put people back on the right track. How respectul is this?

Lean experts need to remind themselves that people they’re helping, teaching or coaching are not dumb. They know their work, they know where problems are and they have plenty of ideas on how to improve it. There may be other problems elsewhere (which they didn’t investigate because nobody told them they could or gave them time to do so), but, from a constructionist point of view, their reality is… well, theirs! So, should a Lean expert come in and sell them something else as the “real reality”, it’s no wonder s/he gets so fresh a welcoming!

Moreover, when teaching Lean, one must not just teach Kaizen and show Respect. One must teach Lean, which means teaching Kaizen and Respect. TWI knew that; it’s embedded in the documents, for instance when you read on the Job Methods card:

Step 3 – Develop the new method

5) Work out your idea with others

6. Write up your proposed new method

Step 4 – Apply the method

1. Sell your proposal to your boss

2. Sell the new method to the operators

3. Get final approval of all concerned on safety, quality, quantity, cost.

(emphasis mine)

Nowhere in here can you feel of something being enforced onto operators. Isn’t this teaching and showing respect for others and taking into account their skills and experience?

Last thing, teaching respect does not means letting people think you feel they’re not respectful. It’s teaching them how to investigate respectfully other parts of the process than their own, it’s teaching them that they need to do nemawashi (as it’s called in japanese) which is sharing their improvement A3 or proposals (as written in the JM card) with others and amend it where necessary (and better yet, go and see in the first place in order to capture the reality rather than fixing it later in the proposal). People are too often in a nonrespectful environment and tend to act in the same way. Trying to change behaviors with respect to this (and changing them respectfully!) for everyone’s benefits seems to me of utter importance.

#GTD Job Breakdown Sheet “a la” #TWI

February 2nd, 2011 Posted in GTD Tags: , ,

I’m a great fan of Getting Things Done (GTD) and a practitioner since around 2006 (for those interested, I’m full paper except for mail stuff which I organize in “To do” and  “Waiting For” folders. My GTD paper system is the Orgabook that I buy at Orgacity).

I’m doing some internal presentation and coaching for friends that want to jump in the wagon or that, sometimes, fall out of it (please note that I am not affiliated to nor have been trained by them – though I wish I were)

Being also interested in Training Within Industry “Job Instruction” training method, I lately thought about introducing GTD using this. So, before devising a whole training session, I created a Job Breakdown Sheet for the GTD workflow. There’s quite some work to do, but that’s a beginning.

I’m sharing it here for those that would like to know more. I also have some material I’m releasing on a dedicated web site, though it’s mostly in french:

Here the JBS: STD GTD Job Breakdown Sheet v1.0 EN

For all the people that think GTD is not for them, I can assure them that GTD is easy once you’ve understand its underlying principles. And trying to teach it is the surest way to better understand them (using GTD builds habits but teaching it clarifies things). Explaining is not enough, you need to try to teach it!

Once again (for search web sites): GTD is easy !

#Change or die! A paper from #FastCompany

January 27th, 2011 Posted in Change Tags: , , ,

How resistant people can be? FastCompany published some time ago a very interesting paper on that topic. The paper relates a study done on people in danger od dying because of their overweight and bad eating habits (paper available here).

People would think that when one’s in clear and imminent danger of death, one would be more likely to change? The response is surprisingly “no”.

Just telling someone they need to change is not enough to make them change, even in the face of a personal death risk.

People need to be coached out of their current habits and into the new ones for the change to be sustained with time.

Should I refer to the PDCA model (Shewhart or Deming circle – Yes, I know PDCA is from Shewhart, but a lot of people still thinks it’s Deming’s invention. Hence the two names)… Back to PDCA, I would say that:

  • a lot of energy is expended in the Plan phase, often without too much consideration to whether tghe plan is acceptable for people or maybe just easily feasible. There’s Ashby’s law of requisite variery at play here (stuff for another post byt I’ve already mentioned the Viable System Model as usueable for change)
  • then, as the Plan was not that much adapted to the variety of the things that need to be changed, a lot more of energy needs to be expanded into forcing the Plan down the throat of employees (hint: may this be the cause of employees choking?). Some says it’s the “Do” phase…
  • when we’ve gone through the two preceding phases (and assuming the change did attain its objective), there’s usually not much energy left for Checking the results. Moreover, if the objectives has been attained, there’s nothing to check, as it’s ok, right? Should the objective not been attained, who’s willing to check and hurt oneself in the process (shoot oneself in the foot)?
  • lastly, I guess nobody even considers doing the Act or Adjust phase. Should we get there, some changed already occurred, and “people just need to copy what’s been successful in the pilot team”. Only the other people will suffer the “not invented here” syndrome: because the plan has been forced onto the pilot team, it’s adapted to them. Not to the rest of the organization (requisite variety again, plus people not been involved in it’s conception). Should the initial plan failed, who’s going to throw money at studying a dead body to understand what went wrong? There’s business to do, no time to fiddle with a dead corpse. Move on!

So, how do get that plan into place? I’d say there are at least two possibilities I can see today: one of them is using the famous Kotter model of change in 8 steps or change your paradigm and let the very people of your organization define and conduct the change that’s needed: Appreciative Inquiry is good for that.

Regarding John Kotter, I’ve just read “Our iceberg is melting“: a short novel about change in a penguin colony, very entertaining and explanatory of the model.

Regarding Appreciative Inquiry, that’s a whole domain in itself, please check the Appreciative Inquiry Commons where there’s a lot of material available for free.

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