Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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The Power of #Positive: Improve productivity by accentuating the human dimension of #lean Six Sigma

February 29th, 2012 Posted in Change, Lean Tags: , , , , , ,

Please read this excellent article on Quality Progress of the ASQ: The Power of Positive (free registration required) about how putting positive psychology into Lean Six Sigma may improve results of these methods.

 

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!

#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!

 

 

#Strength based Hoshin Kanri (#Lean policy deployement)?

My recent post about how Hoshin Kanri is respectful of people got me some feedback on Twitter about how hoshin can also be used to oppress people.

Of course, if management doesn’t take lower hierarchical level ideas into account, or if the “bottom-up”  part is not done at all, can it turns back into classical “command and control” way of managing an organization. But this is not Lean Hoshin Kanri anymore, in the same way that Lean can be Mean, but then it’s not Lean anymore either.

Now, I would like to focus a bit more on how Hoshin Kanri can be done with a Strength-based touch in order to reinforce that “respect for people” part of it.

First of all, I think Hoshin is already somewhat strength-based (again, when done “properly”) in that it asks people about their advice on what ought to be done to improve the organization. People are more likely to give a direction that suits them (conforms to their strengths) than any other one.

But then, it seems to me the focus on strengths could be reinforced explicitly. Here’s how:

  • First, in the initial vision building, the strength part need to be made explicit by not referring to what’s broken inside the company, but rather to what makes the company successful. Some kind of values that are already shared by employees of the companies, or some values that are already acknowledged by the market (and known to the employees). If that is not the case, then I think it’s worth investing some time upfront into developing such a positive (hence powerful) vision, with approaches like Appreciative Inquiry which inquire into what’s been working best for people and what they value as individual and as a social group.
  • Second, building on this initial shared positive vision, each descending step of the hoshin kanri should work with whatever excellence is recognized at each level and try to maximize it (first by appreciating it, then by amplifying it). When that recognition comes from management and is the basis for further reflection down the hierarchy, it will be a huge motivation booster for people to contribute!
  • Then, each and every collaborator, under guidance from their direct manager, need to be coached into reflecting on their own strengths and how they see these fitting with the values of the department in which they’re in. The question being asked here not being “does they fit?” (closed question – bad), but “how could they fit better?” (opened question – good)

After the initial descending part of hoshin kanri, the bottom-up part should re-assemble a whole lot more positive energy and ideas for amplifying and refracting inner strengths than has never been possible under other approaches.

Peter Drucker, famous Leadership guru, taught us that “the role of leadership is to align strengths so as to make weaknesses irrelevant“. I’m confident this might be a way to make it work.

The way I propose to conduct the hoshin kanri above is somewhat similar to what could be done with Appreciative Inquiry. Yet, it may be more structured and thus resemble more what traditional policy deployment looks like. As a consequence, it may be more acceptable for a top manager to try this rather than a whole-system change a la AI.

What do you think of it?

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.

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!

 

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 »

Strength-based #PDCA (#lean)

Lean is traditionally viewed as being problem-focused. That is, it works on problems to solve in order to improve efficiency. The core of Lean management is Shewart‘s cycle or the infamous Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Deming cycle.

Yet, I posit that Lean is indeed also very strength-based when “done properly” (that is, it’s LEAN not LAME – Lean As Mistakenly Executed). There’s a LinkedIn discussion group on Strength-based Lean Six Sigma which I encourage you to follow if you’re interested in the subject. I hope to write about this as well on this blog. Later.

What I’d like to ramble on today is on what the basis for a strength-based Lean could be. First of all, I must explain the difference between strengths-based and solution-focused:

  • Strength-based is about doing something by focusing on people’s strengths rather than focusing on their deficiencies or their problems. The strengths movement mainly came out of the CSV handbook (check what your strengths are on VIA for free!) though other companies devised their own list of strengths (Gallup or Clifton’s Strengthsfinder for instance).
  • Solution-focus is about identifying behaviors that worked in the past (or work in the present) and use them again. It’s not really about replicating a (technical) solution that worked in the past (though that could be the case. Yet, in Lean, standards are supposed to be your company’s best practices, so there’s no point in looking for solutions elsewhere).

So, what would a strength-based PDCA look like? Rather than giving directions, I’d like to propose some questions for each step that should elicit responses from people based on their strengths. or what worked for them. It’s a blend of Solution focus and Strength-based questions with a bit of Appreciative Inquiry in the beginning.

Plan

  • What works well in this job?
  • What first attracted you to this job?
  • What makes you “tick” about it?
  • Apart from this job, what do you love to do?
  • What do you think you are good at?
  • What would your friends and co-workers say about what you’re good at?
  • What are your wildest dreams for this job?
  • What three wishes do you have for this job?

Do

  • What are you willing to do about this job?
  • What behaviors of yours have you seen successful in helping changing something you care of?
  • How are you going to approach what you want to do about this job?
  • What needs to be true (preliminary steps) for your wildest dreams for this job to come true?
  • What are the next physical concrete action that you need to do to advance on these preliminary steps?

Check

  • Where are you on your path to achieve your plans?
  • What worked? How did you notice?
  • What have you done that made it work?
  • How are you going to continue measure progress?
  • What next?

Act

  • What have you learned from what worked?
  • What have you learned from what you did that made it work?
  • How are you going to use that again with what’s left do to?
  • What do you know now that you couldn’t before taking action? What might be further on the road?
  • What new opportunities does it bring for your plans for the future? How are you going to improve your plans, then?

There’s so much to say about strength-based Lean and how you really can put the “respect for people” first in your Lean management so that your work experience skyrockets…

Relating Motivational Interviewing, Stages of #Change and #Gestalt

During my recent readings, I stumbled (again) upon information on Gestalt Therapy, which I am not familiar with. Reading further a bit, it occurred to me that it’s mainly about patients needing to first become what they are in order to become what they want, later (I bookmarked some articles, including one that make the link between AI and Gestalt on my delicious tags for Gestalt).

And so I made the connection with Motivational Interviewing that itself is built on the Stages of Change model. MI does not force clients into change, but rather:

  • take them where they are and
  • help them understand the pros and cons of where they are

Only when people move to Contemplating change are they helped building an intrinsic motivation for the change.

Some recent discussions on Appreciative Inquiry forums also mentioned cases where AI practitioners had to deal with negative feelings first before moving on to positive. I see a form of Gestalt practice in this where it helps people recollect who they are now (including negative aspects) before recollecting their best selves and building on them. Also, it’s a way of acknowledging the fact that the system is locked in a deficit-based way of thinking and that it obviously obsesses it to the point of needing to explicit it and dig it out. A form of second level of acknowledgment of the need for positivity (first is stop being into problems, second is stop thinking about finding problems to grow).

I’m writing this blog entry to try to articulate how these fit together. It seems to me that, with respect to change, a change agent or change practitioner would be better to:

  • help the system acknowledge where it stands now, both on the problematic/deficit side and on the life-giving side (what it is when it is at its best). Also, acknowledging the system’s need to be always deficit-based without ever considering the strengths may further help build that gestalt image of itself (if gestalt experts are reading this, I’d be grateful for their comments!)
  • only after when that here and now recollection has been done should the work with AI be allowed to continue (make meaning of the strengths, Dream, Design and Destiny)
  • all of this could be done with the help of the MI techniques that take the system where it is without forcing him through stages of change to which it might not be ready to go to.

I, myself, through (limited) AI experience, sensed some form of resistance in people I facilitated to move to a strength-based approach (I’m in a highly problem-solving skilled environment, and so not dealing with problems… is problematic!). I’m also wondering whether or not I may have created this myself in expecting it from the people I facilitated (social construction, again!) Hence the need to always listen, listen and listen to the system and always take it where it stands, nor where I would like it to be…

Thoughts still wandering…

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