Appreciating Systems

Appreciating Systems for Genuine Efficiency
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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.

2012-1991=21.

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: http://theleanedge.org/?p=3875. 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.

 

Will speak at LKFR12: Hands-on experience on Strength-based Kanban: a Metaphor and Tool to boost your lean implementation coaching skills #lkfr12 #lean

I will be a speaker there along with David Shaked from Almond Insight.

You can read about our common presentation (and that of others) on the LKFR Speakers page. We intend to do a highly interactive sessionà la workshop where we hope attendees will get back home with a huge number of ideas that will work for them.

Our intervention will be a “Hands-on experience on Strength-based Kanban: a Metaphor and Tool to boost your lean implementation coaching skills.”

The agenda and list of speakers is incredible, make sure you come exchange with us!

Reblog: Dan Jones: Five years into lean » The Lean Edge

August 20th, 2012 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Just read the following on a summer blog entry of Dan Jones. This is a rather simple explanation of what’s everybody’s role at all hierarchical levels in a Lean company:

[…] By then I would expect top management to be setting the direction for lean, middle management to be focused on streamlining their value streams and the front line to be deeply engaged in problem solving.

Although this is simply expressed (as is typical of someone’s wise in any field as Mr Jones is in Lean), this has profound implications:

  • top management being able to 1) devise a strategy that is coherent with Lean principles (not black magic, though some strong character is necessary to stick to some consistent True North) 2) deploy it “properly”, using Hoshin Kanri to embark all levels of the organization, and not trump any motivation by unilaterally imposing it
  • middle management being able to 1) identify value streams 2) connect the streams transversally through the organization and most importantly 3) communicate with one another to make improvements possibles. This is what A3 thinking is about I guess…
  • base employees being able to kaizen, kaizen, kaizen all the time so as to make the value streams identified above pull and approach one piece flow as much as possible.

Of course, this works if top management coaches middle management to do that VSM stuff (value stream mapping) and A3 thinking, most importantly with proper nemawashi (going to see all middle management involved, and any necessary stakeholders so as to devise the final solution with them, not without them). And middle management to coaches base employees into doing kaizen all the time and ensuring learning occurs (standards get improved to as not to forget and not to fall back). In the end, employees work so as to produce basic indicators related to Safety, Quality, Delays and Costs that are reviewed by top management to inform the top strategy (feedback)…

Read the rest of the article here: Dan Jones: Five years into lean » The Lean Edge.

#Lean #coaching without resistance: the paper! (#solutionfocus and #motivationalinterviewing)

I finally assembled my blog posts regarding my applying of Solution Focus and Motivational Interviewing to the process of coaching an CEO to some Lean management behaviors, while trying to avoid any change resistance that might occur.

The result is the attached PDF document that I release below. Enjoy and leave me comments!

Also available from here: Lean Coaching without Resistance EN v1.0

Brief coaching: a #solutionfocus-ed approach (PDF)

May 22nd, 2012 Posted in Change, Solution Focus Tags: , , , , ,

Building on what works in pure Solution Focus way, I found the following PDF article explaining what SF-based coaching is.

The paper is co-authored by BRIEF people in UK and is available from the Publication section (direct link here, quote: Iveson. C., George, E., Ratner, H.  (2012)  Brief Coaching: a solution focused approach In Coaching Today April 2012  17 – 20)

 

How to address Maintenance & Relapse stages of Lean change – #6 (and last) in SFMI #Lean series

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Photo Credit: U.S. Army via Compfight

This article is #6 and last 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 helped reinforce the contemplation stage.

#4 in series was about supporting the preparation stage.

#5 in series dealt with the action stage.

This article deals with the two last stages of change: that of Maintenance and Relapse!

Background on Maintenance and Relapse

During the last episode, we’ve seen how to help the CEO sustain his Action stage mainly by making him reflect on the results he got and on how he planned to continue to improve.

Or course, Lean is a journey, not an end in itself. So there’s no final learning on the part of the CEO. Yet, when it comes to his behavior, there are some new ones that must be put in place and maintained once he found that they worked (meaning they induced continuous improvement initiatives and thriving from the employees). Occasionally, the manager could fall back into relapse. The coach must then know how to help him get back on track to what worked well. Here’s how.

During this stage, the role of the coach is to support the CEO in maintaining his own successful behaviors by:

  • supporting and encouraging the behavior changes already done
  • talking about possible trouble spots and developing plans to manage relapse triggers

Of course, in case of relapse (falling back in command & control mode, telling what to do (giving solutions), forgetting to following-through with improvements, etc.), the coach has a clear role to play as well:

  • addressing the relapse, but without adding to the feeling of shame that could exist
  • assessing and discussing what went wrong and remembering what worked well instead, to reuse that

Maintenance

By now, the CEO should have clearly identified what works for him in modelling Lean behaviors that foster employee thriving and continuous improvement. So, what’s important is that the coach supports him and help him put in place triggers to detect relapse and take action should this occur. I propose some questions below in the Motivational Interviewing and Solution Focus way used in the preceding posts of the series.

  • Things seem to be running almost by themselves now. What are you doing that allows that? What else?
  • How did you manage to get there (show the current successful behaviors) despite the rest of the organization not initially being supportive? [develop his sense of autonomy]
  • What have you learn about yourself? What else? [develop his sense of competence]
  • What do your current behaviors bring to management and to the employees? What pleases them? What else?
  • What are the results from the customers points of view? From the stakeholders?
  • How did you manage to achieve all of these? What else? What else?
  • How do you feel?

Preparing for relapse:

  • Old habits die hard: have you witnessed yourself falling back already? How did you noticed? How did you felt about it? How did you manage to get back on the train? How did you felt then? 
  • What else?
  • What positive effect had your getting back on track with Lean behaviors on the employees? How did they helped/supported you? What else?
  • On a scale from 0 (no confidence) to 10 (totally confident), how do you rate your confidence in maintaining your effective Lean behaviors in the future? How come such a number? Why not a lower number? What strengths do you have that support your maintaining your Lean behaviors? What small step do you see yourself doing tomorrow to start moving to the next level on the scale? What else?

As usual with Motivational Interviewing, practice OARSOpen-ended questionsAffirm positive talk & behaviors (these are already embedded in the proposed questions above), Reflect what’s said (emphasizing success) and Summarize often.

Relapse

First of all, it’s important to stress that relapse is unavoidable. It happens, this is normal, and things can be done. During the maintenance dialogues above, some tokens were identified that support the CEO into his Lean behaviors and to get back on track should he had fallen off the train. Still, the CEO may wish to see the coach because some things aren’t going as expected, or the coach may witness some regress during one of the visit.

Motivational Interviewing addresses these situations by digging into the problem and trying to understand it. Since we’re trying to make use of Solution Focus at the same time, we’re introducing a twist here by building again a platform and helping the CEO re-imagine his Future Perfect, then help him identify what works that he can re-use to get back on the Lean train.

Here are some proposal questions:

  • I noticed that some things weren’t as your showed them to me last time. What happened? how do you link the situation to your own behavior?
  • What would you want the situation to be instead? What would that mean for your corresponding behaviors?
  • How did you managed to demonstrate these behaviors in the past? What worked in the past to sustain the behaviors despite the environment?
  • Aide from the current problem, what’s working? What’s giving you hope for the future? How do you manage to sustain these other aspects? How could that help you get back to your preferred future as far as the problem is concerned?
  • On a scale from 0 (inappropriate Lean behavior) to 10 (ideal Lean behavior you’d like to demonstrate with respect to the current relapse), where are you now? What helped you not fall down a lower number?  What else? What small step will you make tomorrow to start moving to N+1? What else?
  • How will you see you’re back on train?

Conclusion

Here we are. In this series of articles I tried to address the necessary change of behavior a CEO should demonstrate to move from his current behaviors (at the source of the current situation of his organization) to Lean behaviors more appropriate for an organization embodying Lean:

  • thriving management and employees,
  • exhilarating service to customers,
  • and delighted stakeholders.

I proposed to introduce the necessary changes by making use of:

  • Motivational Interviewing: a way to dialogue with someone to as to make him or her move through some stages of change without any raising of habitual “change resistance”. This is done by raising awareness in the coachee that he is autonomous in his decision to change or not, he is indeed competent in doing the change and by installing a sense of relatedness between the coach and the coachee where the coach models prosocial behaviors and embodies a posture (behaviors) that can be replicated by the CEO toward his employees. Five strategies are used for that purpose: 1) expressing empathy, 2) developing discrepancy between what the CEO wants and where he is, 3) avoiding any argumentation and 4) rolling with resistance and finally 5) supporting self-efficacy of the CEO.
  • Solution Focus: a change approach that builds a platform out of a problematic situation, based on what works nonetheless. Then the coachees is encouraged to envision a Preferred Future. Then, the coach helps the coachee identify tokens that support his already working behaviors and the smallest possible steps that could be taken immediately to improve the situation toward the vision.

I hope I have been clear enough in my description of this endeavor. Any experiment you might make with this proposed approach, I’d be delighted to know what happened and what worked. Feel free to contact me by leaving a comment below or through any of my social entry points at my Google Profile.

Art Smalley doesn’t fear the hard questions #lean

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

The Lean Edge asks very interesting questions. For this one (“what makes a good Lean leader?”), Art Smalley shows that he doesn’t fear the hard questions. At all.

Read more there: Art Smalley: Sorry, no buzz word » The Lean Edge.

When have you heard these kind of questions in your organzation?

How do you relate the current question with the current situation (efficiency, finances, etc.) of your organization?

What’s your conclusion?

What’s your Next Actions?

 

5 Suggestions for becoming a skilled #solutionfocus professional (guest post from Coert Visser @doingwhatworks)

February 1st, 2012 Posted in Solution Focus Tags: , , , ,

This is a guest post by Coert Visser, www.solution-focusedchange.com

The solution-focused approach, which was invented in psychotherapy in the 1980s, is now being discovered by many people in all kinds of professions such as coaches, social workers, managers, teachers, trainers, consultants, and project managers. Many people know the solution-focused approach from techniques such as scaling questions, the miracle question, past success questions, and coping questions. By using these and other types of solution-focused questions, the approach helps them to get a clearer picture of their desired situation and of what has already worked before. Many professionals who have started to apply solution-focused principles and techniques are pleased both by the response they get from their clients, employees, or students and by how fast it tends to lead to good results.

Professionals who have just begun to work solution-focused also notice that mastering it is not quite as easy as it might appear. They sometimes ask me for suggestions of how they might approach their learning process. Here are five suggestions based on my experience of what usually works well:

  1. Practice a lot: The basic assumptions and principles of the solution-focused approach can probably be understood within the span of a day, or so. But to master the skills may take many years. If you want to achieve excellence as a solution-focused coach your best chance of achieving it is to approach it as you would approach becoming an excellent musician. Set stretching learning goals focused on improving areas of performance which you are not satisfied about, practice a lot, get feedback and guidance, observe, discuss and learn from examples, keep practicing, reading, writing and immersing yourself in the subject matter. The more technically proficient you’ll become, the more this will free up your attention in conversations with clients to listen carefully to what they are saying and to respond adequately.
  2. Feel free to combine: Since no one can master all the solution-focused principles and techniques at once, it is a good thing that solution-focused principles can often be combined with models and tools from other approaches. To borrow a phrase from Canadian solution-focused consultant Alan Kay, solution-focused principles and techniques can often be ‘layered in’ into existing tools like a SWOT-analysis, or SMART goals.
  3. Don’t be too hard on yourself. When students of the solution-focused approach become more knowledgeable and skilled something paradoxical may happen. While they become better, they may feel they don’t make any progress or even become worse. There may be two reasons for this: 1) only when they are exposed to this new complexity, and when they become aware of how subtle the solution-focused approach works, they become aware of what they don’t know. In other words, their self-assessment is reduced because they also learn to judge their ability level more accurately. 2) While they are making progress they are often simultaneously becoming more demanding and raising the bar for themselves. When learning new complex skills please realize that it is not abnormal to feel as though you are not making progress. My suggestion is to be as affirmative and appreciative for yourself as you are for your clients. Also, ask yourself if your client found the conversation with you useful. Even when you found your performance disappointing your client may still have found the conversation very useful. That is what matters most.
  4. Keep an open mind: Every now and then, you may come across aspects of the approach which may not directly appeal to you. My suggestion is to not dismiss them too soon but instead to give these aspects a chance to prove themselves in practice. You might not understand and appreciate every aspect of the approach right away but you might do so later. 
  5. Remain skeptical: Don’t be convinced solely on the basis of anecdotes, case examples or what ‘authorities’ tell you. Keep trying things out, research them well, add your own inventions and build on what works. This way you may gradually develop your version of the solution-focused approach which is optimally suited for your purposes.  

If you are interested in the solution-focused approach I hope you find one or more of these suggestions useful and I’d love to hear about some of your experiences.

 

#Change management using #TWI Job Relations

Readers of this blog know that I’m a big fan of Training Within Industry programs. They were at the roots of Lean, along with other things. Although we usually talk of Job Methods as the ancestor of Kaizen, I would like to make a small focus today on Job Relations and how it is sound advice when it comes to change management.

The JR cover page states the following about the purpose of the program:

The Training Within Industry program of Job Relations was developed in order to provide management with a tool whereby supervisors could acquire skill of leadership.

Now, reading the associated card, one can see the following notices:

A supervisor gets results through people.

and

People must be treated as individuals.

I’m not going to review the whole program or card, but would like to stress how JR could make for a good training for any change agent, especially managers when then need to lead a change on their perimeter.

Foundations for good relations

First, there are some fundamental points stressed in JR as how to behave with people and maintain good relations. Two are worth stressing in the context of change:

  • Tell people in advance about changes that will affect them
    • Tell them WHY if possible
    • Get them to accept change
  • Make best use of each person's ability
    • Look for ability not now being used
    • Never stand in a person's way

How often are we seeing changes that are not told in advance and where the affected persons’ ability are not used in the change? I don’t see these two points as being separated, but as working together.

Indeed, it’s been recognized over and over that people are less likely to resist change when they understand the reasons behind it and they get a change to participate in it (by using their abilities).

By keeping the JR card with you and studying it thoroughly, you increase your chances of managing your people respectfully.

JR method step 1: Get the facts

The first step of the JR method is about “getting the facts”. Late Lean literature talks of “grasping the situation”, which is very similar, if not identical.

Worth mentioning though is the “Get opinions and feelings” item. From a systems thinking point of view, it’s good as it fosters different perspectives on the situation. Now, this item is not detailed on the card, but it’s the only one being given a list of key points on how to achieve it, if you do the hard work of reading the sessions outline (synthesis available in session V):

How to get opinions and feelings
  • Don't argue
  • Encourage individual to talk about what is important to him
  • Don't interrupt
  • Don't jump at conclusions
  • Don't do all the talking yourself
  • Listen

How’s this for a “manager as coach” behavior? How often have you encountered a manager that really listens to you that way?

JR method step 3: Take action

Step 3 is interesting here for the two following points:

  • Are you going to handle this yourself?
  • Do you need help in handling?

What’s important here to me is when these two points of the method are combined with the preceding two fundamental points mentioned above. Indeed, a manager or change leader should not fear from getting help from the very people who are going to be impacted by the change. By reflecting in how s/he could get help from the people, by using their ability, he considerably augments the chances of the change going well.

Seeking help and involving others is not a sign of failure, but of sound responsibility.

(From a systems thinking point of view again, it helps achieve requisite variety with respect to the change perimeter).

Conclusion

I hope to have shown how the use of TWI Job Relations method can help in leading change. Of course, this is a bit slower than traditional “command and control” way of managing change, but I bet the JR way has a lot more long-term beneficial consequences than the traditional way.

TWI programs session manuals can be downloaded for instance from http://www.trainingwithinindustry.net/.

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