Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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How are #SystemsThinking and #Lean related?

March 12th, 2013 Posted in Lean, Systems Thinking Tags: , , , , ,

This is a post I just saw on LinkedIn: how Systems Thinking and Lean are related?

Here’s my answer:

ST and Lean are not related on first sight. Yet, I’m one of the few being convinced that all the Lean paraphernalia (management practices, coaching Katas, Tools, etc.) helps collaborators of an organization build a better systemic view of that organization and its links with suppliers and clients.

Most if not everything done in Lean is multidimensional.

For instance, pulling processes is:

  • first and foremost in order to make problems visible
  • improves efficiency

Making problems visible helps:

  • seeing them in order to solve them
  • develop people

Developing people will:

  • make them happier at work
  • which makes them more efficient
  • which will further improve the processes (go back to first list above)

Other tools are more dedicated (IMHO) to knitting the systemic view of the company into people’s head and therefore raise their motivation by clarifying the big picture for them, forces everybody to clarify and participate in what this big picture is, and challenge all that may be deviant to it.

For instance: A3 Thinking is about having a description of a problem circulated around that:

  • have the whole of the problem (description, cause hypotheses, solutions ideas, action plans, results) under the eyes: a sort of systemic rich picture in itself
  • the circulation helps everybody build that systemic understanding in his own mind
  • help break down the barriers between organizational silos, which further reinforce the connectivity/relationships among employees, thereby facilitating further improvement initiatives

Nemawashi is the name of that process of circulating A3s during preparation, testing of hypotheses, standardisation of results, and later, Yokoten is the process of proposing the solutions for everybody in the organization to apply and further improve it.

As renown twice Shingo Prized author Michael Ballé said : Lean is systems thinking applied and working.

To make the connection with what @David said: you start by pulling the main production processes, then you pull other supplying processes whose TAKT is that of production. Then you pull administrative processes (HR, finance, etc.)

In the end (10 years from the beginning!), all really is connected and not in silo anymore and the whole organization is really functioning in a systemic, dense network [a system!], as opposed to loosely singly connected silos at the start of the Lean turnover.

Reblog: Dan Jones: Five years into lean » The Lean Edge

August 20th, 2012 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Just read the following on a summer blog entry of Dan Jones. This is a rather simple explanation of what’s everybody’s role at all hierarchical levels in a Lean company:

[…] By then I would expect top management to be setting the direction for lean, middle management to be focused on streamlining their value streams and the front line to be deeply engaged in problem solving.

Although this is simply expressed (as is typical of someone’s wise in any field as Mr Jones is in Lean), this has profound implications:

  • top management being able to 1) devise a strategy that is coherent with Lean principles (not black magic, though some strong character is necessary to stick to some consistent True North) 2) deploy it “properly”, using Hoshin Kanri to embark all levels of the organization, and not trump any motivation by unilaterally imposing it
  • middle management being able to 1) identify value streams 2) connect the streams transversally through the organization and most importantly 3) communicate with one another to make improvements possibles. This is what A3 thinking is about I guess…
  • base employees being able to kaizen, kaizen, kaizen all the time so as to make the value streams identified above pull and approach one piece flow as much as possible.

Of course, this works if top management coaches middle management to do that VSM stuff (value stream mapping) and A3 thinking, most importantly with proper nemawashi (going to see all middle management involved, and any necessary stakeholders so as to devise the final solution with them, not without them). And middle management to coaches base employees into doing kaizen all the time and ensuring learning occurs (standards get improved to as not to forget and not to fall back). In the end, employees work so as to produce basic indicators related to Safety, Quality, Delays and Costs that are reviewed by top management to inform the top strategy (feedback)…

Read the rest of the article here: Dan Jones: Five years into lean » The Lean Edge.

Tentative Strength-Based A3 template (#strength #lean)

October 12th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , ,

I had this in mind since quite some time: a revamped A3 template for Lean problem solving, only it is strength-based in that it help its holder discover how to do more of what works.

What do you think of it? Does it work for you? Have you some improvements to propose (other things that work for you that you’re willing to share?)

The file’s under Creative Commons license by-nc-sa/3.0: Attribution, Non-Commercial, Same Alike sharing.

Download it from here: STD SB-A3 v1.0 EN → See new post with latest version here.

Reblog: Interview with Heidi Grant Halvorson (author of Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goal) by Coert Visser [and how it relates to #Lean]

February 22nd, 2011 Posted in Change, Lean, Solution Focus Tags: , , , , , , ,

This is a very nice interview of author Heidi Grant Halvorson about her book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals.

INTERVIEWS: Interview with Heidi Grant Halvorson.

Coert Visser, interviewer, works in the field of Solution Focused Change.

I really appreciated the interview and the part about what types of  goals allow for lasting happiness:

  • relatedness
  • competence
  • and autonomy

That book seems to be a very good candidate for mandatory reading for managers.

Again, I find that hoshin kanri, or company wide annual goal setting in Lean companies, when properly done, aligns very well to these kind of researches.

  • hoshin kanri supposes that the whole company, starting at the CEO, deeply wants the best for its customers and its employees. That for me connects to the purpose of the company and fills the relatedness advocated for by Heidi Grant
  • by allowing all levels of the organization to contribute to the details of  the hoshin planning process according to their own level of competency and personal knowledge of what needs to be done at the job position they hold, the competence need is also fulfilled
  • and, in the end, by giving responsibility to all organizational levels to know and work on the specific goals they set, aligned with the company goal, autonomy is taken into consideration.

Of course, this (relatedness, competence, autonomy) is also true for A3 problem solving, but I let that as an exercise to the reader 🙂

It’s great when research validates some practices already done, because it allows for some kind of formal explanation and justification of “why it works”. People can stop complaining that “it ain’t work here” and “we’re different”, because researched formally showed that it’s doomed to work anywhere. It’s also a way to reinforce a (young) (Lean) coach that’s it’s the good way to go, whatever the organization’s reluctance to go down that path.

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