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

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)?


Carl Rogers concepts #mindmap: a reminder of coaching attitude for #change and #Lean #management

I’ve just uploaded a mindmap out of material I’ve scouted on the net: Carl Rogers concepts MindManager Map.

I find Carl Rogers position toward people very interesting and something terribly necessary to have in mind when considering changing organizations (either using Lean or Systems Thinking), because it reminds us that:

  • things did not occurred out of nothing
  • the system (organization) is perfectly adapted to do what it does (hence the difficulty of changing it)
  • everything currently being done makes sense to the people working inside the system

It reminds me of that Socrates quote: “All I know is that I know nothing“.

All of this is highly impregnated of Systems Thinking stuff: people adapt to their environment (the system around them), which allows them to change it for their own purpose, which will retro-act on themselves. It concludes that people are adapted to the variety of the system around them and, corolarly, that someone outside of the system can’t have the requisite variety. So it’s a necessity to be unconditionnally accepting of the collaborators.

Also, because a change is perceived as a threat (whether consciously or not), a perfectly safe environment must be set up (between the coach and the manager or the manager and the employees) for the new experience to be integrated and make sense of. This environment mwill be in the relationships established between employees and their management.

 

#SolutionFocus approach to continuous improvement in #Lean

To my readers, it’s no news that so-called “kaizen events” (or more precisely, kaikaku) work.

It’s also no news that continuous improvement (CI) after such events is hard to sustain.

That’s where Solution Focus comes into play. Reading the excellent blog of Coert Visser the other day, it occurred to me that I had misunderstood something in the SF approach. That of the type of solution being searched for.

In-between

Yes. SF does not look for a concrete solution such as a new method of doing things, a new tool or a new widget. It’s even stated in the underlying principles: S.I.M.P.L.E:

  • Solutions – not problems
  • In-between – the solution is in the interaction
  • Make use of what’s there, not what isn’t
  • Possibilities – past, present and Future
  • Language – simply said
  • Every case is different

My insight occurred in the “I“: solutions are in the interaction between people. I should have read the book more carefully. Moreover, SF comes from psychotherapy and is rooted in social constructionism, that should have raised my awareness… A psychoanalysis would probably link that to my IT engineering education… Well, whatever:)

A Solution Focus Approach to Continuous Improvement

Solution Focus framework

Solution Focus framework

So, what would a Solution Focus approach to “continuous improvement not working” be?

Well, let’s turn to the framework (see side picture).

  1. Move from Problem to Platform. What we have is people not taking care of continuous improvement, so what we do want is people constantly taking care of CI.
  2. What’s the Future Perfect? An ideal outcome would be that the team manager takes the CI as a way of life (or at least managing his team) and do it all the time in all situations.
  3. Scaling: where are we today? Well, it depends on the team!
  4. Counters / Know-How: what are the resources, skills, know-how and expertise that will count in getting us toward the solution (I’m quoting here the excellent and foundational book “The Solution Focus” that brought SF to organizations). Please mind the underlying part, which corresponds to the “In-between” of SIMPLE above.
  5. Affirm whatever the people are already doing toward the solution: recognize and value it.
  6. What Small Actions could you do right now to move up one level on the scale toward the Future Perfect?

Again, my insight regarding CI is in step 4 that deals with:

  • resources brought to a situation (that is, put in the interaction between people)
  • skills put to the service of the desired outcome / future perfect
  • know-how which also relates to behaviors
  • and expertise, also put to use in the situation

So, the learning here for me is that we should not be looking at new tools or some fancy visual management (though it might helps sometimes) to sustain continuous improvement, but really look after the way the manager is enacting CI in her behavior and her interactions with her team.

I’ve all too often seen visual performance management not being acted upon and slowly disappearing under dust because management was lacking the proper behavior toward it.

You can improve without visual management, but you can’t improve without doing things and displaying some improvement related behavior. Of course, when the two are used together, their effectiveness is far more powerful than used alone.

So, what is the solution?

Ok, so we know what team leaders must do: show, in their interactions, that they care about CI. What help does this solution gives us? My answer is:

Absolutely none.

Yes, you’ve read it properly. This solution at which we arrived is of no help for at least two reasons:

  • It doesn’t gives us details at what, precisely, needs to be done.
  • It’s been devised out of the gemba, so it’s worthless because it’s deconnected to the real reality (speaking in systems thinking terms, one would say that it does not have requisite variety)

The real solution is that we need to pass team leaders through the Solution Focus framework and have them come to the same kind of solution. They need to find their own answers to questions such as:

  • What, for you, works for keeping people interested to continuous improvement?
  • What worked before (or is working now) for keeping people working on a specific topic?
  • What worked before (or is working now) for keeping yourself working on a specific topic?

Please beware: the last question is a treacherous one as the team leader will probably reply that her manager constantly reminded her of that very topic to be kept on top on the priority list…

We, as Lean coaches or consultants, need to constantly remind ourselves that team leaders not only need to grow their own visual performance management board, but also their own way of acting and enacting a behavior that fosters continuous improvement. Although it’s longer and sometimes tougher than to decide that in place of them, it’s also the only way that does not raise the so-called “change resistance” that we always find on our (and their’s) path.

What’s next?

Well, now, we know what needs to be done on the part of team leaders. To be more precise, we knew it before, but I feel it’s a new way to go look for ways to finally achieve improvements that are really continuous.

 

 

Some thoughts about what #positive #lean could be by mixing #AppreciativeInquiry and #SolutionFocus

I’ve been thinking lately of what some less deficit-based or more positive-based Lean could be. I know three kind of positive approaches:

  • Appreciative Inquiry, more geared toward identifying what gives life to people, what interests them;
  • Solution Focus, which tries to identify what works or has worked and do more of it;
  • Positive Deviance, which allow a group to identify people (the positive deviant) that achieve a definite purpose in the same condition as others who do not.

What I find interesting in these approaches is that I find them far more powerful when it comes to motivating people to change. Because they appeal to what people really want or like to do. Surely enough, epople do want to solve problems, but only to the extent that it allows them to move toward something that they feel interested in, something that serves them in one way or the other.

Read more »

Doing #Agile retrospectives with #AppreciativeInquiry

I’ve just stumbled upon a very nice article about doing “Appreciatives Restrospectives” at the end of an agile sprint: An Appreciative Retrospective | AYE Conference.

Could that be used during a Lean morning meeting when by changing the focus from problems to what worked (and capitalize on it through standardization)?

 

How to #coach people and get results from your #leadership?

March 18th, 2011 Posted in Change Tags: , , ,

I love this simple post: Demanding Change: To lead people on a journey …

It elaborates on a simple well known premise:  to lead people, you need to start from where they are (read the rest of the post to know more, then come back here).

But this is regarding the beginning of the path. After starting, there’s sustaining. And then a coach I had a chance to work with once told me the following:

A coachee stops where the coach stops.

And to end with, let me give you a tweet I’ve read:

Change resistance is inversely proportional to your leadership skills.

It hurts, doesn’t it? Well, it did hurt me!

But let me ask you a question.

Imagine you were leading people without them resisting you. What would that mean as to the choosing of the leading direction?


 

Reblog: DOING WHAT WORKS: Perspective change

Another short and nice article by Coert Visser about question that helps develop a Systems Thinking view of a situation in the mind of the person being asked: DOING WHAT WORKS: Perspective change.

The article doesn’t mentioned systems thinking, this is my link of the tswo subjects, but SF is deeply rooted in the field, so it’s no wonder the roots diffused to the core.

 

Reblog: DOING WHAT WORKS: Effective questions for helping and providing direction

Here is a very interesting article from Coert Visser about leading people by asking questions: DOING WHAT WORKS: Effective questions for helping and providing direction.

Also, follow the inner link to “Constructive and Activating Management Techniques” on the same topic.

Telling is straightfoward and not helping people learn. Indeed, people just take what you say and either accept or reject it. Of course, some rare people are able to say things crafted in such a way that it makes people think deeply about it and help them get insights about whatever it is that the discussion is about. Milton Erickson comes to mind for instance.

For the more mundane people like me, asking questions is a way to gently push people to think about an issue and by this way step by step creating in their mind a systemic representation of what you’re trying to get through to them. “What else?” is for instance a powerful yet simple question that fosters deep thinking (used in Systems Thinking or Solution Focus).

Socrates used this a lot of course, but it somewhat had not benefitted him 😉

What else are you using to make people stop-and-think?

#Lean may very well increase your employees intelligence…

Reflecting on my previous quick post (I really need to add value instead of just repeating what I’ve read elsewhere…) I made the link between these five practices that help increasing one’s cognition, and Lean. The practices, should you not want to read the previous post, are:

  1. Seek Novelty
  2. Challenge Yourself
  3. Think Creatively
  4. Do Things The Hard Way
  5. Network

There’s Systems Thinking playing behind the scene here as I feel (like the referred blog post’s author Coert Visser) that they are all related to one another. Let me review each point in turn and discuss it from a Lean point of view.

Seek Novelty

By constantly trying to improve the company, Lean managers strive to maintain a state of permanent change. That is, a state where nothing stays as it is forever and people need to improve constantly, thus change and fin new ways of doing things. Novelty can be found in, for instance, the 5M:

  • Methods: innovate new ways of building the widgets your company sells
  • Man: rotate or change job to discover new places in the company
  • Materials: seek new ways of using your materials, or new materials altogether to improve your widgets (or reduce your costs)
  • Machines: innovate with your machine usage: error-proof devices (poka yoke), automatic unloading (hanedashi), arranging machines into cells, etc.
  • Mother Nature: how can you innovate with the constraints of your envionment to be more efficient? Or innovate in ways to preserve the environment?

Well, you can extend the 5M to 8M if you like, you get the point.

Challenge Yourself

Lean is continuous improvement and this rythms with constant challenge: how to reach that next better point from where you are? I don’t have much to say as this is rather obvious…

Think Creatively

Again, this is what a sensei requests from employees, for instance in A3 problem solving. From Toyota Kata, one knows that constant questioning is required: what’s the problem? why is this a problem? How do you know? What could another solution be? How will you check the results? How will you “sell” your proposal to colleagues (nemawashi)?

Some of the harder problems would probably mandates to think out of the box (as Einstein said, one cannot solve the problems with the same state of mind that created them).

Do Things The Hard Way

This means, do your homework. Don’t rely on others to do it for you or rely on devices to do it for you. If TPS is not hard way, I don’t know what it is! 🙂

Network

Well, I can see two networking tools in Lean: A3 and Hoshin Kanri: they make you meet others, discuss the topics with them, have creative and hard discussions and so exchange possibly differing points of views. A good way to maintain brain plasticity, for sure.

Conclusion

It is said that Lean takes ordinary people to achieve extraodinary results by making them constantly improve the processes they work in. Now, studies have shown that it also turns these ordinary people into extraodinary ones.

Given the flow of past Toyota employees moving to the Lean consulting business, I tend to believe there might be some truth in these studies.

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