Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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Finding local roots for #Lean – Everywhere (@mbaudin reblog): What about here and there too? #solutionfocus

I found this nice piece of Michel Baudin regarding finding local roots for Lean to improve acceptance of Lean: Finding local roots for Lean – Everywhere | Michel Baudin’s Blog.

But then I wondered about having people “discover” that they already invented some Lean principles themselves? Maybe they just didn’t noticed or maintained them consistently over time?

This is what the Strengh-based approach to Lean is (well, at least using the Solution Focused way).

  • When have you seen this process improving? What did you do that contributed to that improvement? (finding improvements actions that work for the people here; the improvement part of “continuout improvement”)
  • How do you manage actions that you must do repeatedly? (finding ways to remember to to actions all the time; the continuous part of “continuous improvement”)
  • When have your work been easier to do? More interesting? What did you do to help create these conditions? (findings ways to improve the work that work for the people doing it)
  • Tell me about a time where your customers where satisfied with the product or services you delivered. What was it? How did you do it? (same kind of question, but for quality)
  • etc.


Using #Scrum, #kanban and #AppreciativeInquiry to Manage #Kaizen? Why not!

I often struggle with management giving only lip service to sustaining kaizen (continuous improvement, the problem being with continuous, not improvements which they heartfully agree to have!).

So I ended up with the strange idea of using a framework to create a culture of improving often and having a clear path forward. When the culture has changed to continuously improve, the framework can probably be ditched for something else (indeed, it should have if they improve their way of improving, see Scrumming the scrum!)

To make the story (!) short, I ended up with using Scrum, an Agile Software Development method, to manage improvements themselves.

I did a quick review of basic Scrum artifacts as per what Wikipedia lists, and it looks nice. The trick is using the team leader or anyone willing to play that role as Scrum Master (though the TL would be best).

Here’s a small file to see what matches to what, though this is quite straightforward: Scrum for Kaizen v1.0 EN.

Of course, if you don’t know Scrum, you’d probably want to have a look to Wikipedia link above and go with one of the introductory files linked such as downloading the Scrum Guide.

How to populate the Product Backlog (list of improvements)? Well, I have another idea: do an Appreciative Inquiry with the team and see what they really want for themselves, then:

  • write the Provocative Propositions from the Destiny phase on top of the Product Backlog
  • dump the result of the Delivery phase in the Product Backlog

and voilà, you have your list of (most and much) desires improvements!

Chances are that your list of AI-based improvements will be big so you might as well use a Kanban to manage all of this… So this is more technically speaking Scrum-ban, but… who cares anyway? 🙂

Someone wants to try it?

#lkfr12 : Strength-based Kanban : slides, interview guide and final handout available!

October 23rd, 2012 Posted in Lean, Strengths Tags: , , , , , ,

This year (2012) was the first edition of Lean Kanban France. David Shaked and myself facilitated a workshop about “strength-based kanban” to be used both as a tool and metaphor to boost one’s own coaching skills (whether to coach Lean or Kanban… or whatever!).

Here are the documents:

  • slides,
  • 1st generation handout (interview guide used for people to interview each other during the workshop)
  • and 2nd generation version of a strength-based kanban which you are encouraged to use, improve

…all the while to keep us informed of what great things you did with it!

Meanwhile, should you like to participate in the strength-based (r)evolution of Lean, feel free to join others on the Strength-Based Lean Six Sigma LinkedIn discussion group.


Don’t do #Lean, Build it instead

October 23rd, 2012 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

People read a lot of books to try to know all about Lean. Indeed, I did it myself (and sometimes still do it). And that’s OK.

But then, we try to have others do Lean as we’ve read in the books.

It’s an error.

We ought to have others build a Lean organization, not do it as per the books.

Trying to do Lean is trying to push solutions onto people, which is a sure way to have them resist.

Whether trying to build a Lean organization is about helping people find their own solutions toward Lean. As I say, it’s about pulling Lean out of the people. Not the other way round.

Indeed, Taiichi Ohno told us so: we shouldn’t try to replicate the Toyota Production System, we must grow our own. That’s the main reason he didn’t want to write down what TPS was in the first place (other reason was to avoid it becoming fixed).

Why is it, then, that we try to replicate all that Mr Ohno told, except for this one fundamental, point?


#TWI used to make Construction more #Lean a @linkedin discussion

In that LinkedIn discussion, the TWI programs have been used with great results (both bottom line AND, more improtantly to me, with respect to the people side of the work). Furthermore, here are three nice questions Mark Warren provided as a sort of quick coaching process to introduce the J programs. Thanks Mark!

The act of going to the work is a “Learning to See” exercise to get people in the habit of looking for problems. Then asking a few questions.

  1. Do you have a process? (No – map the process and develop a job breakdown sheet to train staff doing the job. Yes – question 2.)
  2. Do you follow the process? (No – use JR to understand why. Is it a personal issue, or are they not following the process because of other reasons? Yes – question 3)
  3. Is the process capable? (No – start with JM, however more complex tools may be necessary to resolve. Yes – what did you overlook?)

via Just completed a mammoth TWI implementation on a large construction project in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 36% productivity improvement within 6 months. TWI is fantastic in the construction industry. | LinkedIn.

#Lean Five Whys: when do you stop asking? Please answer here:

October 15th, 2012 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , ,

give me five! (CC)Creative Commons License Martin Fisch via Compfight

I have a question to me fellow readers.

On of the most famous Lean tools (or quality tool as well) is the Five Whys. Literature has it that one should ask 5 whys at least and that a further number of whys isn’t a bad thing. Yet, Taiichi Ohno often gives examples where the investigation is stopped at the fifth why despite one could easily have asked some further ones.

Aside from the usual caveats (doing wide whys and forgetting to go deep five levels; assigning blame to other people; etc.), what are your practices regarding five whys, and what’s your criteria for stopping?

Here’s my answer below, but please only read it after you have posted your own in a comment this post (double-click the following paragraph to have it decoded in a pop-up – an alternative way is copy-pasting the text onto website).

[rot13]My own criteria for stopping analysis is when people end up with a cause that has not other further cause beside “well, we just have to do X”.[/rot13]

#TWI en français: des documents publiés sur le site de #ENST (#Lean) !

October 9th, 2012 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , ,

J’ai pu récupérer, grâce à de multiples contacts, des documents, diffusables, du TWI en Français.

Je les ai déposés sur le site du TWI en français de Télécoms ParisTech. Il s’agit de documents des mines domaniales de potasse d’Alsace datés de 1966.

J’en ai aussi profité pour déposer mes informations quant aux pistes que j’ai suivies pour récupérer des informations sur ce qui existait dans le domaine. Allez voir l’adresse ci-dessous.

Et si jamais vous pouvez passer à Roubaix aux Archives nationales du travail, faites moi signe, je vous expliquerai comment faire des copies du Manuel de Formation Pratique des Chefs qui s’y trouve !

Merci à Michel, Franck, le Monsieur du BGRM et à Mark Warren pour leur aide précieuse !


Don’t teach #Lean

genchi genbutsu

Now, thinking about it, how long have companies been trying to replicate Toyota? That’s easy fact to find: get the publication date of “The machine that changed the world” from Womack, Jones & Roos: 1991.


It’s been 21 years that people try to teach Lean. And few succeed. Yet the teaching and education business is longer than that. Should we have known a bullet-proof way of teaching, we’d know by then, don’t you think?

So, instead of trying to find the root cause of why Lean teaching fails (besides, it doesn’t really fail: it’s just that knowledge learned that way cannot be put into motion), let’s turn to what works instead. What do successful Lean coaches tell us about turning a company Lean? It simple, and I guess anyone in the Lean business knows it:

現地現物 !

Or, as I read elsewhere:

Go to the real place, look at the process, talk to the people.

Why does teaching Lean doesn’t work?

Trying to teach as systemic a thing as Lean is very difficult. Every single tool or practice is connected to every other one: Just in Time helps with flow, but also raises problems (that the purpose, by the way!), so you can see them, but you’d need visual performance management board as well, which means you need to learn and practice Five Why’s root cause analyses, Pareto, and Ishikawa. So, you’d discover that your training is lame (Job Instruction!), your batches are too big and because your die changeovers are too long, so you must SMED them, and so on.

So, when someone’s trying to teach Lean, they’re mainly trying to have some square pegs forced into round holes. The peg being the Lean material, and the hole being the people’s brain they’re trying to indoctrinate. People will have a hard time making sense of their knowledge with what they have in production. Teaching them is also mostly diverting their mind from where the true work needs to be done: the floor (gemba).

So between using new and non-practical knowledge or continuing to do what they’ve already done (and that they perfectly know how to do from their perspective), what do you think they will do? They will continue to do business as usual of course!

So, what to do about Lean knowledge?

Should we stop teaching Lean? No, of course, otherwise we’d be short of Lean experts someday. But what’s important is that the ones having Lean knowledge don’t try to push it onto people (besides, pushing isn’t the best Lean practice, by the way), but they must try to have people pull knowledge. And not pulling knowledge from the mind of their Lean consultant, but from their own! Which means the Lean consultant must change job and become a Lean coach. The role of a coach being that of a guide that doesn’t give solutions, but helps and encourages on the path to understanding. Of course, the Lean knowledge of the coach is useful: it helps him/her to ask the good questions at the most efficient moment so that the people can discover and learn Leanin the context of their own work.

Here’s one example of what I meant by the diatribe above: Michael Ballé’s one of the most respected Lean coach on the planet, but it took me quite some years to fully understand what he meant by repeatedly and bluntly telling people (like myself!) to go back to the gemba and work there. But for people like me that are more interested in learning than in producing, that wasn’t pleasant a discourse as I wanted it to be.

Now I know how I can have learning AND teaching at the same time: by going to the gemba and patiently and relentlessly showing the direction of Lean to people, but by coaching them to discover what would work best for them, in their own context. Hopefully, I have different tools in my toolbox to help me along the way, like Appreciative Inquiry to work out with people why do they do what they do, Solution Focus to help them remember what do they do that already works for them from a Lean perspective or Systems Thinking to nudge them into considering the whole system rather than just their silo and have them get out of their own way to truly build that systemic way of the company by 1) going to the real place, 2) looking at the process and 3) talkig to the (other) people.


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