Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Some thoughts about what #positive #lean could be by mixing #AppreciativeInquiry and #SolutionFocus

I’ve been thinking lately of what some less deficit-based or more positive-based Lean could be. I know three kind of positive approaches:

  • Appreciative Inquiry, more geared toward identifying what gives life to people, what interests them;
  • Solution Focus, which tries to identify what works or has worked and do more of it;
  • Positive Deviance, which allow a group to identify people (the positive deviant) that achieve a definite purpose in the same condition as others who do not.

What I find interesting in these approaches is that I find them far more powerful when it comes to motivating people to change. Because they appeal to what people really want or like to do. Surely enough, epople do want to solve problems, but only to the extent that it allows them to move toward something that they feel interested in, something that serves them in one way or the other.

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Doing #Agile retrospectives with #AppreciativeInquiry

I’ve just stumbled upon a very nice article about doing “Appreciatives Restrospectives” at the end of an agile sprint: An Appreciative Retrospective | AYE Conference.

Could that be used during a Lean morning meeting when by changing the focus from problems to what worked (and capitalize on it through standardization)?

 

How to #coach people and get results from your #leadership?

March 18th, 2011 Posted in Change Tags: , , ,

I love this simple post: Demanding Change: To lead people on a journey …

It elaborates on a simple well known premise:  to lead people, you need to start from where they are (read the rest of the post to know more, then come back here).

But this is regarding the beginning of the path. After starting, there’s sustaining. And then a coach I had a chance to work with once told me the following:

A coachee stops where the coach stops.

And to end with, let me give you a tweet I’ve read:

Change resistance is inversely proportional to your leadership skills.

It hurts, doesn’t it? Well, it did hurt me!

But let me ask you a question.

Imagine you were leading people without them resisting you. What would that mean as to the choosing of the leading direction?


 

Reblog: DOING WHAT WORKS: Perspective change

Another short and nice article by Coert Visser about question that helps develop a Systems Thinking view of a situation in the mind of the person being asked: DOING WHAT WORKS: Perspective change.

The article doesn’t mentioned systems thinking, this is my link of the tswo subjects, but SF is deeply rooted in the field, so it’s no wonder the roots diffused to the core.

 

Reblog: DOING WHAT WORKS: Effective questions for helping and providing direction

Here is a very interesting article from Coert Visser about leading people by asking questions: DOING WHAT WORKS: Effective questions for helping and providing direction.

Also, follow the inner link to “Constructive and Activating Management Techniques” on the same topic.

Telling is straightfoward and not helping people learn. Indeed, people just take what you say and either accept or reject it. Of course, some rare people are able to say things crafted in such a way that it makes people think deeply about it and help them get insights about whatever it is that the discussion is about. Milton Erickson comes to mind for instance.

For the more mundane people like me, asking questions is a way to gently push people to think about an issue and by this way step by step creating in their mind a systemic representation of what you’re trying to get through to them. “What else?” is for instance a powerful yet simple question that fosters deep thinking (used in Systems Thinking or Solution Focus).

Socrates used this a lot of course, but it somewhat had not benefitted him 😉

What else are you using to make people stop-and-think?

#Lean may very well increase your employees intelligence…

Reflecting on my previous quick post (I really need to add value instead of just repeating what I’ve read elsewhere…) I made the link between these five practices that help increasing one’s cognition, and Lean. The practices, should you not want to read the previous post, are:

  1. Seek Novelty
  2. Challenge Yourself
  3. Think Creatively
  4. Do Things The Hard Way
  5. Network

There’s Systems Thinking playing behind the scene here as I feel (like the referred blog post’s author Coert Visser) that they are all related to one another. Let me review each point in turn and discuss it from a Lean point of view.

Seek Novelty

By constantly trying to improve the company, Lean managers strive to maintain a state of permanent change. That is, a state where nothing stays as it is forever and people need to improve constantly, thus change and fin new ways of doing things. Novelty can be found in, for instance, the 5M:

  • Methods: innovate new ways of building the widgets your company sells
  • Man: rotate or change job to discover new places in the company
  • Materials: seek new ways of using your materials, or new materials altogether to improve your widgets (or reduce your costs)
  • Machines: innovate with your machine usage: error-proof devices (poka yoke), automatic unloading (hanedashi), arranging machines into cells, etc.
  • Mother Nature: how can you innovate with the constraints of your envionment to be more efficient? Or innovate in ways to preserve the environment?

Well, you can extend the 5M to 8M if you like, you get the point.

Challenge Yourself

Lean is continuous improvement and this rythms with constant challenge: how to reach that next better point from where you are? I don’t have much to say as this is rather obvious…

Think Creatively

Again, this is what a sensei requests from employees, for instance in A3 problem solving. From Toyota Kata, one knows that constant questioning is required: what’s the problem? why is this a problem? How do you know? What could another solution be? How will you check the results? How will you “sell” your proposal to colleagues (nemawashi)?

Some of the harder problems would probably mandates to think out of the box (as Einstein said, one cannot solve the problems with the same state of mind that created them).

Do Things The Hard Way

This means, do your homework. Don’t rely on others to do it for you or rely on devices to do it for you. If TPS is not hard way, I don’t know what it is! 🙂

Network

Well, I can see two networking tools in Lean: A3 and Hoshin Kanri: they make you meet others, discuss the topics with them, have creative and hard discussions and so exchange possibly differing points of views. A good way to maintain brain plasticity, for sure.

Conclusion

It is said that Lean takes ordinary people to achieve extraodinary results by making them constantly improve the processes they work in. Now, studies have shown that it also turns these ordinary people into extraodinary ones.

Given the flow of past Toyota employees moving to the Lean consulting business, I tend to believe there might be some truth in these studies.

Reblog: Michaël Ballé “The Trouble with #Lean Experts”

This month column of Michaël Ballé on Lean.org 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.

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