Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
Home » Archive by category 'Lean' (Page 11)

#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?

Hoshin kanri is key to #Lean deployement because it respects people

October 13th, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , ,

How many Lean programs start with an objective of reducing costs? How many of them are named “Lean” when it’s spelled “L.A.M.E“?

Management still thinks that because they’ve decided something ought to be done (such as lowering costs or increasing quality, reducing delays), that will be done without them being personally involved?

Hoshin Kanri is the Lean way of deploying objectives top-down through the hierarchy.

Yet, these should not be seen as traditional in the types of objectives (aka “SMART“), or in the method in which this is done.

How to do hoshin kanri?

First, the method is not really that of a “top-down” approach as I said above. It starts in a top-down manner, but only as a way for top to give some direction down as to where people should look after for improvement. And then, each level down should investigate where there’s room for improvement that could contribute to the top objectives and ask for improvement down his own hierarchy in the refined sub-objectives. All this goes right to the shop floor (bottom level) where people then know precisely:

  • in which direction do the improvement objectives need to be done
  • and why they are necessary (more on this below)

Only when the top objectives have been declined down to the shop floor can bottom people start thinking to how the improvement will be done and lead their kaizen efforts in the proper direction.

Of course, it could happen that lower managers (and people) know better than upper management about what the next improvement should be or in what time frame it can be done reasonably. That’s the bottom-up part of hoshin kanri where bottom people negotiate with upper people on what ought to be done. This is constructive dialogue taking place. Not dictatorship.

What kind of objectives?

Toyota's Vision PictureThe next important point in hoshin kanri to be taken into account is that the top of the top objectives are not what people could expect out of “SMART” objectives. That level of company-wide objectives is called “True North“. Often times, that kind of direction doesn’t change very often and it more importantly needs to have an intrinsic property not advocated by SMART: it needs to be motivating. This is the why of the objectives that are so deeply sought after by employees. Simon Sinek in his famous TED performance explained that “people don’t buy what you do but why you do it“. Don’t expect your people to buy-in your objectives if you’ve not sold them why you want them.

Toyota doesn’t have a company objective. It has a vision. This is maybe more clearly expressed in their Company Vision:

Toyota will lead the way to the future of mobility, enriching lives around the world with the safest and most responsible ways of moving people.

Through our commitment to quality, constant innovation and respect for the planet, we aim to exceed expectations and be rewarded with a smile.

We will meet challenging goals by engaging the talent and passion of people, who believe there is always a better way.

That’s not “SMART”. But it’s engaging. Now, every department of the company can work toward this vision, by interpreting what it means with respect to its role inside the company, to its current performance and so on.

What about your company? Are your people carving stones or building a cathedral?

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.

#Lean is hard on processes in order to be soft on people

October 11th, 2011 Posted in Lean, Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

After yesterday diatribe on the people side of improvement, it occurred to me this morning that when doing Lean management, what we work with are mainly processes, not people; at least not directly.

“Hard on problems, soft on people” is indeed an often cited quote in Lean culture.

Lean is based on a coaching culture where the coaches are the managers (“teach, don’t tell” is another Lean quote). Yet, you can’t coach someone who doesn’t want to (whatever his/her [good or bad] reason).

So, the process is used as a pretext for that coaching. In an organization that needs to make benefits, improving efficiency is something well understood from employees. Yet, it’s hard (if not impossible) to come toward people and tell them how they should work better, because:

  • it’s disrespectful (and Lean is based on Respect for People!)
  • it’s presumptuous unless you did their job before and preferably not long time ago
  • and even if not long ago, you’d be served a well-merited “why didn’t you do it yourself when on the job”?
  • you don’t have requisite variety, meaning a manager can’t know the details of how to do each and every job he’s supposed to manage
  • and finally, it goes against what Lean management teaches us: having employees learn. If you tell, they don’t learn. Period.

So, even if you know how to do it better, you shouldn’t say it. And so you focus on the processes instead. Because by improving processes, you squeeze problems out of them, which means food for thought for your employees, which they will solve because it’s their job (not yours as a manager!), which will improve further the process and make it all the more sensitive to more subtle problems.

So is the virtuous circle of Lean.

(The vicious circle of traditional management is all too common: no problem solving, thus more problems, more firefighting, less time to solve anything, and more problems, leading to people leaving the company, new hires, less experience of the current situation and so further less problem solving). I wrote about it here: Nobody Ever Gets Credit for Fixing Problems that Never Happened (Creating & Sustaining Process Improvement).

How often do you focus on the processes instead of only the results of them?

#Lean is social constructivism and constructionism (#stwg #systemsthinking)

A few days ago, I attended a Lean conference in Paris (with Michael Ballé) and had an insight with respect to what Lean senseïs (such as Michael) are trying to do.  Or, to be more accurate, I attached some specific meaning to a senseï-deshi relationship (which should be that of a manager with his collaborators, by the way). The details of this kind of relationship and what it entails is well described in Toyota Kata by Mike Rother (a book I yet have to read as I can’t keep pace with the TAKT of Toyota books being released… More info from Mike Rother is available on his own homepage for Toyota Kata with summary slides).

What is it that I had an insight about? Well, one recalls that:

  • a manager should spend most of his time on the Gemba, coaching his collaborators
  • the coaching consist mainly in having people repeat the PDCA loop: grasp the situation (by going to the gemba again), make hypothesis, test solutions and adjust/genealize through standardization where applicable.

One utterly important point (to me) is that the manager/senseï always stresses that grasping the situation, hypothesis formulation, solution testing and standardization must be done with all people impacted, on the gemba.

Testing is where constructionism as a learning theory occurs and co-thinking on a problem is where social constructivism happens. Let me explain below.

On social constructivism in Lean

Lean is very high on socialization of workers (and managers! Western companies should learn from that) and the A3 document is where this most evidently occurs: the A3 holder should not work on his problem on his own but meet with all stakeholders with the A3 as a central point of discussion and summary of discoveries about the problem.

What this process is all about is plain social constructivism: people make meaning of their work environment by constantly exchanging between them about it, either in groups (in Obeyas) or face to face.

Here’s what wikipedia says about social constructivism:

Social constructivism is a sociological theory of knowledge that applies the general philosophical constructionism into social settings, wherein groups construct knowledge for one another, collaboratively creating a small culture of shared artifacts with shared meanings. When one is immersed within a culture of this sort, one is learning all the time about how to be a part of that culture on many levels. Its origins are largely attributed to Lev Vygotsky.

(emphasis mine)

Sounds familiar to Lean people, huh?

Social constructivism is a way of seeing knowledge as meaning made out of social interaction. Any other “knowledge” is just hypothesis making and needs to be confronted (dialogued) with other people to check for validity and build meaning “into” it.

We all know how senseïs work hardly at breaking our (often wrong) mental models and replacing them with 1) Dialogue with stakeholders and 2) genchi genbutsu. This is where the second part happens.

On constructionism (learning theory) in Lean

With Lean senseïs striving for everybody to meet on the gemba where the real stuff happens, Lean is rooted in constructionism as well. Constructionism as a learning theory is defined as follow by Wikipedia:

Constructionist learning is inspired by the constructivist theory that individual learners construct mental models to understand the world around them. However, constructionism holds that learning can happen most effectively when people are also active in making tangible objects in the real world. In this sense, constructionism is connected with experiential learning, and builds on Jean Piaget‘s epistemological theory of constructivism.

(emphasis mine; the page further elaborates on problem-based learning… hint, hint)

What this means is that those that do something learn and know (quite) for sure. What you know in your head without prior testing is only belief (which unsurprisingly rythms with bullshit in Michael speech…)

I recall having read about or heard some of the most impotant questions regarding A3 thinking:

  • how do you know this is a problem? Have you gone to the gemba to check?
  • what are you going to do to test your hypothesis? (constructionism)
  • how will you convince your co-workers about your solution? (constructivism)

Merging social constructivism together with constructionism

The beauty of it all is to have both social constructivism and constructionism learning combined into the same management principles: meaning making occurs on the gemba with people dialoguing together.

That’s what a Lean senseï is trying to do: design learning experiments on the gemba where his deshi could learn something.

Footnotes

Here are some other notes that came to my mind while writing this post. Causation or Correlation? Probably both, the reader will decide…

Michael’s doctorate work on mental models

Michael is the son of Freddy Ballé who introduced Lean in France and Catherine Ballé, an organizational psychologist. Michael did his doctorate thesis on change resistance, especially in the context of introducing Lean into manufacturing companies. That work resulted in the writing of a book (french only it seems): “Les modeles mentaux. Sociologie cognitive de l’entreprise” (which could be translated as “Mental models. Cognitive sociology of organizations”) where these topics are described in deep details along with hypothesis, experiments and their analysis – all on manufacturing gembas. Already.

TWI Job Break Down Sheets improvement by Toyota

Looking back into Toyota history, one can compare the way teaching is done today to how it was done at the time of TWI at the end of World War II.

  • TWI’s Job Breakdown Sheets originally had two columns: “Major Steps” and “Key Points“.
  • Toyota’s JBS have one more: “Justification for key points“.

They obviously realized early that meaning at work was very important for employees. This of course also relates to their “Respect for People” pillar which implies that people know why they’re asked to do things…

Now, I hope you’ll understand better what is meant by “mono zukuri wa, hito zukuri“: “making things is about making people” (Toyota saying as said by Mr Isao KATO here [last page]).

 

Nobody Ever Gets Credit for Fixing Problems that Never Happened (Creating & Sustaining Process Improvement) #Lean paper #stwg

Here’s a fundamental paper that explains some of the difficulties of introducing and sustaining Lean in companies, from a Systems Thinking (Systems Dynamics to be more precise) point of view.

The paper has been authored by John Sterman and Nelson Repenning and is available here.

The paper’s very didactic and takes the reader by the hand into building the diagram step by step.

Motion analysis and improvement predates #Lean: Gilbreth videos!

September 23rd, 2011 Posted in Lean Tags: , , ,

There’s a french-speaking Yahoo group on Lean discussions (here) where Michel Baudin (LinkedIn profile) posted two links to some archived videos of motion analysis and improvement by the Gilbreth (Wikipedia pages: Lillian and Frank):

Have a look at the Wikipedia pages above, there’s some material linked!

This is very interesting!

Unautomate Your Money #zenhabits but also #Lean

September 20th, 2011 Posted in Lean, Personal Development Tags: ,

I appreciate this post on Zenhabits: Unautomate Your Money.

Special note to the first sentence:

“Every time we automate a process in our lives, we trade a piece of consciousness away for a piece of convenience.”

Of course, in Lean, we don’t automate, we autonomate, which means we add a human touch AND we don’t automate that which can be removed altogether in the first place.

We leverage process autonomy to make better use of brainpower.

 

How to address Preparation stage of Lean change – #4 in SFMI #Lean series

This article is #4 in a Series about using Solution Focus and Motivational Interviewing to coach CEOs into starting their own Lean journey.

#1 in series gave a broad-brush view of what I intended to write about. Please read it first.

#2 in series addressed the precontemplation stage of change.

#3 in series help reinforce the contemplation stage.

This article deals with the next stage of change: that of Contemplation.

Background on preparation

Following the preceding stages of change, if you’re reading this, it would mean that your CEO is now ready to change himself. Indeed, I remind the occasional reader that the beginning of this series was about having the CEO realize that he was the first person that needed to change. Most CEO know their organization need to change to implement Lean, but they usually don’t expect to change themselves. Yet, if they continue to do what they’ve always done, they’ll get what they always had.

So, the most critical part before being allowed to the preparation stage is that the CEO expressed Commitment to change talk, following MI questions aiming at raising DARN talk (Desire, Ability, Reasons and Need). That was the purpose of articles #2 and #3.

So, the CEO being now committed to change himself, the most important tasks during this stage for the MI coach are to:

  • build confidence in the change to come
  • talk about timing of change
  • present information, options and advice

All the while

  • resisting the urge to push by staying at the client’s place (or pace)

Lean role of CEO

This stage of change differs from preceding ones in that the CEO is expected to build an action plan for the change. There are two possibilities with that:

  1. either he knows how to “behave Lean”
  2. or he doesn’t

I have two responses to these situations, non exclusives and not related specifically to #1 or #2:

  • comfort him that he knows how to do it
  • teach him what he doesn’t know…

With that second point, it’s important to notice we’re still trying to avoid raising his resistance to the change, so any advice or teaching need either:

  • be formally requested by him
  • or gently introduced and asked for permission to tell before telling: “I know a way to achieve that. Would you like me to present it?” It’s also important to note that we’re not behaving as having a definitive knowledge or advice: we want the CEO to adapt what we say to his specific organization and make it his own.

It is now important to recall that Lean is mostly about empowering collaborators to spot problems and imagine solutions that they implement, measure and generalize (standardize in Lean terms) where appropriate, with maximum colleague implications. This is basic PDCA and scientific method.

We certainly don’t want the CEO to solve problems on behalf of employees, for that would prevent them from learning (and he doesn’t have time for that anyway).

The role of a Lean CEO is to coach, on the gemba, his middle managers into coaching, on the gemba, their employees into the scientific method (PDCA) in order to move current processes to a vision of one-piece-flow.

The purpose of this article is not to detail how to do that (they are shelves full of literature on that topic). Suffice it to say that, for instance, D. Jones and J. Womack approach is useful to keep in mind:

  1. identify value
  2. identify value-stream
  3. create flow
  4. pull
  5. aim for perfection

And the two tactics to get there are:

  1. just-in-time
  2. and jidoka (autonomation or automation with a human touch)

This is the strategy the CEO need to have in mind, down to employees and through middle management as well. Always, all the time. This is summed up as 1) continuous improvement with 2) respect for people.

Preparation

So, the main strategy of the coach will be to help the CEO identify what behavior he needs to adopt in order for his people (middle management) to do what he wants them to do in order to do Lean. The what are: continuously, improve, respect and people. The how is what works for the CEO. So, most of the following questions are Solution Focused oriented on purpose.

With this in mind, here are some tentative questions, MI-style, to ask a CEO preparing his own change for some more Lean behaviors (be reminded that it’s always possible to mentor the CEO into Lean knowledge, provided he asks for it or gives you permission to do so – what we want is genuine interest in continuous improvement: Lean tools are only shortcuts to be used where, when and if people want to use them):

  • recalling preceding transformations/projects you managed successfully, what worked well in terms of your own behaviors for having them move on?
  • how do these compare to your current management practices?
  • what first steps would you see yourself doing first? Can you make these smaller? And even smaller? And, of these last ones, what even smaller step could you start doing right now?
  • what other behavior will you start doing tomorrow? What else? 
  • what else?
  • what will you see improve as a result? What else?
  • what is the place in your organization where continuous improvement would benefit more as a starter? What’s been your behavior toward it recently? How would you go about changing it? How will you measure results?
  • suppose a miracle open overnight (without you knowing it since you were sleeping) and all middle-management would adopt Lean behaviors. How would you know in the morning that things have changed? What would you notice first? What would you do to support it?
  • on a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your current management practices regarding continuous improvement? Why not a lesser number? What are you doing that makes you give this score? What else?
  • on a scale from 1 to 10, how important is it for you to change your own behavior? Why not a lower number? What else?
  • on a scale from 1 to 10, how ready are you to starting implementing your new behaviors? Why not a lower number? What else?

Should you have comments on these questions, or other suggestions, feel free to leave a message below!

Stay tuned for #5 episode that will be about the Action phase.

Mail List

Join the mailing list

Check your email and confirm the subscription