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#Lean doesn’t scale according to @Michael_Balle. I disagree (a bit) #leanenfrance29

June 1st, 2018 Posted in Change, Lean Tags: , , , , , , ,

Today, it was (program here). Excellent conference as usual, check later for the slides on their website.

In one of his clarifications given during the conference, Michael Ballé said that “Lean doesn’t scale” despite us (consultants, whether internal or external, or CEOs) repeatedly looking for rapid scaling of the results.

It’s unusual, but today, I felt like I have to disagree. A bit.

Of course, solutions don’t scale. They’ve been grown by the people of a specific place (gemba), for that place and for that very same people. Every context is different, be it, of course, another company or another service in your own company. Taiichi Ohno himself is said to having had to struggle a lot each time he went from one line to another (we’re different, it doesn’t apply to use, it can’t work here, etc.)

So, can the Lean tools scale and replicate? Well, yes and no.

  • Can they replicate? Surely and it’s been written in numerous books. It’s probably also part of the problem why Lean struggles that much to enter in new companies: because people try to replicate the tools (for the solutions they bring) as detailed in the book. But replicating the tools doesn’t guarantee replication of the results, for you’ll surely fail to develop the people while trying to enforce the tools. It’s not about the tools (or worse, their results), it’s about the people (or better, the thinking process in the people’s heads).
  • Can they scale? Well, we’ve seen Lean tools be used in other places than the shop floor, like in offices or in the board in order to develop and follow a strategy (think Strategic A3, problem solving A3s, etc.) which can have a leveraging effect (after all, the hierarchical pyramid exists precisely for this in the first place: to leverage the impact of the (wo)man at the top). Does it mean they can replicate the results from one division to the others in a snap? Of course not. To keep with the A3 example, what’s important in the A3 is not the paper, it’s the thinking process that’s behind it. And if you can transmit information, you can’t transmit knowledge: that one has to be grown by each and every mind on its own, based on its personal experiences.

So, back to my title: does Lean scale?

If you mean swiftly replicating the tools from one place to another as if it were an identical place, hell no. No place is identical. Even two identical production lines are different, because they are operated by different people, using equipment with different levels of wearing, hence with different faults, breaks and problems (even if they’re similar).

But what you can replicate are the tools, not for the solutions they bring, but for the thinking patterns they’ve repeatedly proven to foster in those who use them properly (hint: keyword here). The trick is that, in Lean management, when the wise shows the moon, the fool looks at it! (S/he should look at the wise and understand why the moon is pointed at. Why the moon and not something else?)

So, how one does scale Lean? Obviously, by replicating the moon-pointing wise men, the senseï!

Lean is not about improving the results, nor is it about improving the process (which I thought up to recently). Lean is about improving the people that operate the process (remember the Toyota saying about “making things is making people or, in japanese, Mono tsukuri wa, hito tsukuri?). Indeed, this is what Michael reminded us about during that very conference. And probably in all previous ones as well.

And if you want to scale the “improving the people” part, you need to grow more coaches or senseïs able to foster Lean thinking in people. Which is precisely what Lean Coaching is all about (or Toyota Kata), starting at the CEO level coaching his subordinates, themselves coaching their own subordinates, up to shop floor collaborators.

So, of course, it’s a slow process. So if by “scaling Lean” you thought achieving quicker results by way of bypassing the “developing people” part (which is long), of course you can’t (well, you can on a short time frame, but as soon as the coach turns round the corner, performance withers).

But if by scaling you mean improving your impact onto the number of people you can develop in a time interval, then of course you can! But not shortly. Yet, it’s still more efficient and effective than (wrongly) replicating the tools and they quick results without having grown the accompanying mental model and having disappearing a few months or years later because nobody really understood what the real story was all about.

 

Michael Ballé’s @TheGembaCoach Column: respect and sensei

Interesting question asked to Michael Ballé, to which I added my comments at the end (with lots of typos, sorry :-/)

Dear Gemba Coach,If lean is based on respect for people, why are sensei gemba visits reputed to be so tough?

Source: Michael Ballé’s Gemba Coach Column

Can #Lean be #positive? Answer from @thegembacoach

Here’s an interesting one from Michael Ballé’s Gemba Coach Column.

Readers of this blog know I’m a big fan of Michael’s thinking. He’s one of the best sensei one can imagine.

Yet, he’s not strength-based in his approach (apart for the “respect for people” which very few seem to understand from him). This latestest column is no different: in trying to make Lean appear positive (as did some other senseis before), Michael stayed in the deficit-based thinking. He’s sticking to the Toyota approach of Lean (which makes wonder wherever it is applied properly, no argument on this) and he explains how looking for, and solving problems can be a positive thing, because it can help people improve their work and achieve a shared purpose to a level that few organizational development initiatives might bring.

Yet, I’m not entirely convinced. Lean can be so much more when viewed from a strength-based perspective.

First of all, problems can be seen as an opportunity of asking oneself when has the problem been less present (if not just totally absent). This is true positive thinking without the need for reframing the situation. In a true positive deviance, one can meditate on the saying that “in any malfunctioning system, something does work properly”. We just have to ask to start searching for, and finding it.

Second, one can put more emphasis on what people would like their system, organisation or process to be. Sure enough, problems happen, meaning, things won’t turn out like we would like them to be. Yet, by accepting this (just like what Michael advocates for), we can just let go of perfection and “make lemonade when life brings us lemons”. If it can be done with problems (solving them when they appear), then why can’t we cease positive opportunities when they happen?

Indeed, I’m still convinced that the PDCA, continuous improvement way to efficiency is the right one to advance. But just like other systems, you can use the loops and feedbacks to run negative or positive paradigms through it (ok, it goes a bit more complicated than this, but I hope you get the point).

So, continue your PDCA and A3 problem solving, but why not next time try to ask about what’s working and what you’re trying to achieve? Why not ask about a time when things worked, at least partially, and what you did that helped make it better? I’m sure you’ll re-discover interesting stuff that you’ll be proud to share with your colleagues, and standardize and teach to others.

But, by building on successes to confirm and reinforce your positive first steps (instead of possibly demotivating problems to solve), you might get more energy to go down the Lean path and more rapidly. Isn’t this an attractive vision to strive for?

Keep us posted on your experiments!

 

@thegembacoach Column: #LEAN = #TPS {#KAIZEN + #RESPECT} and I infer from that…

August 26th, 2014 Posted in Lean, Strength Tags: , , ,

Ballé did it again: an excellent blogpost on what Lean is all about: Michael Ballé’s Gemba Coach Column.

Making people think by themselves. Man is this terrifyingly difficult!!!

Yet, on other aspects, people do think by themselves when they really are interested in the thing they want thought through.

That they just don’t think about their work should trigger an alarm in management’s heads about what it to to be a leader and having their people be interested in the work they do.

You obviously can’t force interest. And the more we advance in time, the more the new generations of workers seek interesting, meaning making jobs.

And you can’t exactly know what someone will find meaning in, so my conclusion is:

Let people organize themselves and define meaning as what works best for them.

Strength-based Lean, eh? 😉

 

Michael Ballé’s @thegembacoach #Lean column: “what is a root cause?” Excellent!

May 30th, 2014 Posted in Lean Tags: , , ,

Michael Ballé’s Gemba Coach Column is about trying to define 1) what is a root cause and 2) how to do 5-Why’s analysis properly.

Very good article and this is a topic barely tackled clearly. I have yet to find root cause analysis being done right (well, apart from those in Lean books of course).

 

 

Reblog: #Kanban and #Lean – a challenging association (from @djaa_dja)

October 28th, 2013 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , , ,

David J Anderson posted a very nice piece some months ago about the relation current “Lean Kanban” and Lean initiatives have in common (or lack thereof for some part of it).

Indeed, the reasons advanced by David are the same that launched me on a journey to find some new ways to make Lean sticks once the coach turns away from a team (as if often requested from an internal Lean Coach, which is my situation). More precisely, this might be why the best approach to Lean teaching might be to work with a Lean sensei (as advocated by, for instance, Michael Ballé [web]).

Although I totally agree with David’s reasons for being wary of the way most consulting companies introduce Lean, I would not throw the baby with the bath water. There are some people who try to promote a respectful deployment of Lean (as if “respect for people” should have gone away from Lean!). The original “Boston Lean” authors as mentioned by David are just the first of them, despite the fac that their work has too often been misunderstood and the focus on tools be the norm. Granted, at the time the initial Lean books were written, Toyota Production System knowledge outside Toyota was mostly focused on the visible parts, namely the tools. Yet the respect part of it was already there. Michael Ballé’s two (Shingo) prized books (“The Gold Mine” and “The Lean Manager“) also feature the people aspects intertwined with the tools.

Lastly, Michael’s latest book in french have a whole part dedicated to that respect for people and how Lean is supposed to turn the gemba into a thrivable environment (“Le Management Lean” with Godefroy Beauvallet).

So, should we be wary of “Boston Lean“? Definitely when it means focusing on “toolbox Lean”! But I’m not sure that creating a side track with Lean Kanban is also the thing to do, despite helping in the short-term.

A reinforcement of the respect for people part of Lean, what it can bring in the short, middle and long-term to the organization’s betterment is, to me, the definitive path to look after. It’s the duty of Lean coaches to prove that we can achieve safety, quality, delays and cost improvements all the while making employees thrive at work. Indeed, this is the only thing that works on the long-term.

 

#Bravo pour le #livre “Le #management #Lean” de @thegembacoach et @godefroy_b!

Je viens de finir “Le Management Lean” de Michaël Ballé et Godefroy Beauvallet (http://www.amazon.fr/Le-Management-lean-Michael-Ball%C3%A9/dp/2744065528 #reader_2744065528)

Michaël Ballé est un coach Lean (français) reconnu internationalement, auteur de 2 autres livres primés par le Shingo Prize (“The Gold Mine” et “The Lean Manager”).

Ce livre est tout simplement exceptionnel. C’est un “manuel de Lean management” simple et surtout, il explique très très clairement dans sa dernière partie l’importance du respect des gens et notamment des employés.

Extraits:

Selon cet idéal [de l’entreprise Lean], l’entreprise est créée par des êtres humains pour satisfaire des besoins humains et est composée d’être humains. […]

Le “respect pour l’humanité” est au coeur de la performance et la clé du juste-à-temps. […]

Respecter ses employés est lié à la conviction que chacun est capable de progresser et à l’effort du management de tenir compte des aspirations du personnel qu’il emploie.[…]

Cette réalité humaine est une richesse pour l’entreprise, et non une complexité inutile.[…]

Le respect des employés n’est pas un supplément d’âme pour pays nantis, c’est la voie de nouvelles relations sociales, dans une certaine mesure plus tolérantes et apaisées, assurant que chacun puisse donner le meilleur de lui-même.[…]

Les clients, employés et partenaires sont des personnes et non des ressources, des rôles ou des fonctions.[…]

Une performance intrinsèquement collective dépasse de loin les résultats obtenus avec une logique mécaniste de l’action, qui sépare “les têtes qui pensent et les bras qui font” et invente des règles à n’en plus finir et des incitations en tranches de plus en plus fines.

Je m’arrête là, ce livre regorge de pépites du même genre dans sa 3e partie (et les 2 premières sont limpides sur la manière de réaliser l’idéal du Lean Management, en tout respect des collaborateurs, afin de libérer leur engagement (cf. rapport Gallup sur les résultats catastrophiques de l’engagement au travail, notamment en France)

Une dernière pour la route:

Dans les termes employés par des managers d’entreprises dirigées dans un esprit véritablement lean, ils ont l’occasion de “s’éclater au travail”. Le travail ne devrait pas être un lieu de souffrance, mais un espace de réalisation.

Ma conclusion : fuyons le déploiement tayloriste des outils du Lean, et revenons à ce qu’il devrait être réellement : un outil de libération de la motivation intrinsèque et de l’engagement des collaborateurs et des managers. Alors la performance client et financière suivra.

Pas l’inverse.

My @leanpub book “The Colors of #Change” has started its publication! https://leanpub.com/tcoc

Details are available on the page over there: https://leanpub.com/tcoc or from here (a bit more complete).

Subtitle is “Respectful Change Management explained by Cybernetics”.

Check it out!

How are #SystemsThinking and #Lean related?

March 12th, 2013 Posted in Lean, Systems Thinking Tags: , , , , ,

This is a post I just saw on LinkedIn: how Systems Thinking and Lean are related?

Here’s my answer:

ST and Lean are not related on first sight. Yet, I’m one of the few being convinced that all the Lean paraphernalia (management practices, coaching Katas, Tools, etc.) helps collaborators of an organization build a better systemic view of that organization and its links with suppliers and clients.

Most if not everything done in Lean is multidimensional.

For instance, pulling processes is:

  • first and foremost in order to make problems visible
  • improves efficiency

Making problems visible helps:

  • seeing them in order to solve them
  • develop people

Developing people will:

  • make them happier at work
  • which makes them more efficient
  • which will further improve the processes (go back to first list above)

Other tools are more dedicated (IMHO) to knitting the systemic view of the company into people’s head and therefore raise their motivation by clarifying the big picture for them, forces everybody to clarify and participate in what this big picture is, and challenge all that may be deviant to it.

For instance: A3 Thinking is about having a description of a problem circulated around that:

  • have the whole of the problem (description, cause hypotheses, solutions ideas, action plans, results) under the eyes: a sort of systemic rich picture in itself
  • the circulation helps everybody build that systemic understanding in his own mind
  • help break down the barriers between organizational silos, which further reinforce the connectivity/relationships among employees, thereby facilitating further improvement initiatives

Nemawashi is the name of that process of circulating A3s during preparation, testing of hypotheses, standardisation of results, and later, Yokoten is the process of proposing the solutions for everybody in the organization to apply and further improve it.

As renown twice Shingo Prized author Michael Ballé said : Lean is systems thinking applied and working.

To make the connection with what @David said: you start by pulling the main production processes, then you pull other supplying processes whose TAKT is that of production. Then you pull administrative processes (HR, finance, etc.)

In the end (10 years from the beginning!), all really is connected and not in silo anymore and the whole organization is really functioning in a systemic, dense network [a system!], as opposed to loosely singly connected silos at the start of the Lean turnover.

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