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Can #Lean be helped by Self-Determination Theory and #SolutionFocus? (a @doingwhatworks paper)

I think you will spend 164 seconds reading this post

From that very interesting (as is most often the case from Coert Visser!) paper here, I derive the following insights:

Lean on the motivation continuum

Self -Determination Theory (SDT) has is that motivation can be expressed on a continuum from “amotivation” to “intrinsic motivation” with three basic human needs: autonomy, competence and relatedness (all things that are also found in Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs and the notion of Flow from Mihaly_Csikszentmihalyi).

Lean appears to be well on these three pillars of motivation:

  • autonomy is high in an environment where management does not solve the problem of their collaborators, but instead coach them to resolution.
  • this coaching leads to increased competence on the work and on the process of continuous improvement itself, along with a better knowledge of how the organization works (through A3 problem solving for instance which fosters nemawashi – japanese term for: go see all stakeholders and work with them)
  • by doing nemawashi with all stakeholders, people get their relatedness level increased!

On motivating people to do Lean

Visser’s paper continues, on page 13, on the way Motivational Interviewing can help a professionnal helper (!) with their client, as would be the case of a Lean coach in any organization (please bear in mind that I talk of a coach, not a consultant whose approach is different). In this regard, MI is based on 4 general principles:

  • the expression of empathy
  • the development of discrepancy
  • rolling with resistance and
  • support for self-efficacy

Considering what I often saw in organizations with respect to Change and Lean more specifically, I’d say that:

  • Lean change approaches are often law on empathy: “all your problems are belong to us, we’ll you help solve them”,
  • with a development of discrepancy that more than often consist in management or co-called coaches finger pointing faults in those running the processes,
  • a rolling with resistance that consists of stomping it for it’s the proof of ignorance in Lean matters and that so-called Lean coaches and experts know better (which is indeed true as for Lean things, but blatantly false  with respect to people’s own Gemba),
  • and support of efficacy is most of the time seen as Lean consultants (whoops I should have said ‘coaches’ 😉 doing most of the job themselves (deciding on what the Future State Map for instance should look like) with only partial accounting for people’s ideas.

What I described above, though caricatural (or is it?) is still what’s even been given a name: L.A.M.E. (Lean As Misguidedly Executed).

The paper goes on starting from page 14 on some suggested questions to addresse the four principles above to move someone in the needed change direction, but with proper respect for their motivation and of them as people, by helping find how they could be engaged with the change initiative.

Reflection questions:

  • As a CEO, how engaged are your collaborators in the Lean initiative? What have you done to motivate them and engage them, as persons, in it?
  • As a Lean coach, how have you addressed management’s willing to do Lean? What questions did you asked them as for their own needed change with respect to Lean (that is, Lean should be done by management with collaborators, not to collaborators)?


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