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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.


There are only 2 possible causes for #RootCauseAnalysis and it’s very close to #TWI from #Lean

May 3rd, 2018 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A friend of mine just reported a very interesting insight from a meeting he had with the japanese man (sorry didn’t took note of his name) who invented QRQC or Quality Circles. I’m posting this here as the guy doesn’t have a blog of his own.

The two possible root causes are:

  • failure to instruct properly, which is what TWI Job Instruction is about
  • failure to setup your process properly, which at first the japanese man presented as a bad FMEA.

And what’s in a FMEA? 1) Overall steps of a process 2) Key points and 3) risk analysis

Can you see how close this is to a TWI Job Breakdown Sheet with the 1) steps 2) key points and 3) justifications of the key points (where the justification is a risk mitigation technique in itself to ensure memorization of the key points)?

So basically, you end up with the only two possible root causes of any problem :

  • bad Job Breakdown Sheet (description and organization of the job)
  • bad Job Instruction (instruction of that job)



Cultiver des hommes… #Lean #Permaculture #Agroécologie

M’intéressant actuellement à la permaculture (cf. ce post de janvier), je viens de réaliser un certain nombre de parallèles :

  • Le Lean dit (en japonais): “mono zukuri wa hito zukuri” soit “fabriquer des choses, c’est fabriquer des hommes”. Donc il faut fabriquer des hommes avant de pouvoir fabriquer des choses, et le Lean est un business model qui vise à développer les hommes par la résolution de problèmes
  • L’agroécologie (l’un des aspects de la permaculture), c’est faire de l’agriculture qui régénère les sols plutôt que les épuiser
  • le 8e gaspillage du Lean est souvent cité comme étant la créativité inexploitée des collaborateurs.

Je trouve le parallèle saisissant si l’on considère que les pratiques managériales actuelles tendent à désengager et déresponsabiliser les collaborateurs, ce qui les amènent à ne plus contributer d’idées et d’innovation à l’amélioration de leurs entreprises. Comme si les pratiques managériales (agricoles) avaient épuisé les sols (collaborateurs), et qu’il faille pallier avec force consultants, méthodes, et autre command & control.

Re-apprenons à travailler avec la diversité (des idées), réinvestissons une partie des gains de l’entreprise vers les collaborateurs (compostage sur place !), travaillons avec les bordures (valoriser le différent, les frontières de l’entreprise), recherchons les interactions entre plantes (collaborateurs d’expertises différentes) et nous aurons un terreau (une culture organisationnelle) à nouveau propice au développement d’idées !

Arrêtons de planter des graines qui donnent des plantes stériles [hybrides F1] (idées extérieure, gestion du changement command & control), mais valorisons les graines anciennes (idées des collaborateurs, adaptées au terrain/terreau de l’entreprise) qui poussent sans intrants chimiques (méthodes importées de l’extérieur et tuant toute créativité en interne) !

Faisons de l’agroécologie ou de la permaculture d’entreprise !


Transformational Change vs. Continuous Improvement (#Lean #change)

March 21st, 2016 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , , ,

Great article taking a different approach to what’s most often done in organization. Lean is a whole system thing. You cannot nit pick tools out of it, you have to gobble the whole thing and change everything, becasue everything in Lean works and touches every other thing in the organization.

It may sound like sacrilege to hear someone say that continuous improvement may not always be the right answer. Of course, it is the core process of lean management. But, there are times when more significant and more rapid change is required – sometimes revolution rather than evolution is called for.

Source: Transformational Change vs. Continuous Improvement

Reblog: An Industrial-Age Solution To Email Overload | @FastCompany

February 9th, 2016 Posted in Lean Tags: , , , , , ,

This is a very interesting article indeed. Now, that’s not as if Lean or Agile practitioners wouldn’t shield workers and developers from incessant perturbations. We know that already, albeit we’re only practicing it for certain categories of workers (line workers or developers for instance), and not for the rest of the organization.

When you’re going for optimization, do it to the whole value chain, not just where value is added. And while you’re at it, remove that which doesn’t bring value at all. Hint: there’s a hell lot of stuff that might qualify as “work” but which is not adding value to your customers. It’s most probably bugging your employees and destroying their engagement.

A century ago, the Pullman Company came up with an ingenious solution to help brass workers do their jobs without distraction.

Source: An Industrial-Age Solution To Email Overload | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

#Permaculture and Organizational #Efficiency (#strength-based #Lean also)

Having the chance to own a house with a small garden, I recently got interested in Permaculture. Indeed, I’ve been interested in Christopher Alexander‘s pattern language already (and I blogged about his 15 principles of wholeness before).

Reading this great introduction about permaculture this morning got me thinking about how this would connect with business and organizational improvement. And, the fact is that it seems to work like a charm!

Here are the 12 principles of permaculture viewed from the perspective of organizational improvement and efficiency (with a twisted view from strength-based Lean…)

  1. OBSERVE & INTERACT – “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This indeed is the first step of improvement: go to the real place (gemba, genchi gembutsu) and look at the process! Improvement is not done in an office remote from where the work or the process is done.
  2. CATCH & STORE ENERGY – “Make hay while the sun shines.” When thinking of “Lean and Green”, this would obviously make sense of course. But I like the human aspect as well where you need to feel, catch and use the energy of people: what motivates them to do what they do? What’s the purpose of the organization that drives it to deliver its services? What fuels people to work? Before you try to change the processes, you must take great care in not destroying that energy. One could also see in this point the sometimes added 8th waste of “unused employee creativity”: this too is a kind of energy which should fuel an organization.
  3. OBTAIN A YIELD – “You can’t work on an empty stomach.” Or “Produce”. The goal of an organization is to service its customers, right? So you need to ship as soon as possible. And the better the quality has to be, though we’ll come back later to this one.
  4. APPLY SELF-REGULATION & ACCEPT FEEDBACK – “The sins of the fathers are visited on the children of the seventh generation.” When you produce, you need to look at what you ship, and self-correct in case of a problem. This pertains to the final client, but of course to internal clients as well, between teams or silos (if your organization is so structured). So, regulation with the previous and later steps in the process (TAKT time, anyone?) and client feedback… I also like the saying about the seventh generation: don’t look just at the next step, for your job might have consequences far beyond further down the process (or in the Client’s life).
  5. USE & VALUE RENEWABLE RESOURCES & SERVICES – “Let nature take its course.” Again, I’m not so much interested in material resources (although they’re important of course), but in the human resources: don’t exhaust them but do care for them. Don’t use too much of it that none would be left to let it renew itself. Don’t burn them out.
  6. PRODUCE NO WASTE – “Waste not, want not. A stitch in time saves nine.” Told you it fits nicely with the efficiency improvement stuff! The link with Lean Waste (Muda) is obvious here. And before reducing waste, there is not producing it in the first place.
  7. DESIGN FROM PATTERNS TO DETAILS – “Can’t see the wood for the trees.” I read this one as not focusing on the details at the expense of forgetting the principles. The risk here is to improve locally at the expense of global efficiency (the one pertaining to performance from the client’s perspective, and the organization as a whole). So, it might mean to follow the patterns of efficiency (implement them) and then tune the details (adapt them to the local processes and activities).
  8. INTEGRATE RATHER THAN SEGREGATE – “Many hands make light work.” Back to the silos: you’d better reinforce interactions between the parts rather than growing them apart from one another. This goes also with #4 when accepting feedback from other parts of the organization.
  9. USE SMALL & SLOW SOLUTIONS – “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.” Small PDCA improvements. Enough said.
  10. USE & VALUE DIVERSITY – “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” If standardisation of parts and processes is key to efficiency, it should not from the perspective of people: valuing and leveraging diversity increases the chances of finding the best solutions. Diversity of minds in a team, and reaching beyond the limits of that team, through feedback (#4 again) from them is, again, key to improvements.
  11. USE EDGES & VALUE THE MARGINAL – “Don’t think you are on the right track just because it is a well-beaten path.” Here again, we take care of the frontiers of teams and processes and look at interactions to improve. Divergent ideas are valued as a way to further improve. Incidentally, the more your standardized, the more you’ll be able to see divergent ideas. Don’t fright on them as something to be banned, but seek what they might tell you about how to further improve.
  12. CREATIVELY USE & RESPOND TO CHANGE – “Vision is not seeing things as they are but as they will be.” And the last one: whether your processes look perfect or are still under change, keep an opened eye for forthcoming change and invite, accept it. Change is the only constant thing in the world (Heraclitus).

Arrêtez l’hypocrisie, on arrêtera le cynisme ! #management #teal #entrepriselibérée

Je ne compte plus le nombre de fois où j’ai entendu un manager dire “ça ne marchera pas, ils (les employés) n’accepteront jamais” ? Ou “les employés ont besoin d’un cadre pour travailler”.

Mais avez-vous seulement essayé autrechose ? Je veux dire, vraiment essayé.

Le fait est que les managers se contentent (au mieux) ou se gargarisent (au pire) des libertés qu’ils laissent aux employés. Mais ces libertés ne peuvent s’exercer que dans le cadre de périmètres parfaitement délimités par ces mêmes managers. Tant que l’intelligence et la liberté du collaborateur s’expriment dans ce cadre (restreint), tout va bien (pour le manager). Mais dès qu’elles essayent d’en sortir elles ne sont plus reconnue comme telle : elles se transforment en prétentions mal placées ou, pire, en arrogance.

Le fait est que l’expertise peut amener à tourner le miroir du côté du manager, qui n’aime alors pas ce qu’il y voit et en blâme le collaborateur. Lorsque cela arrive, de nouvelles règles et structures sont définies, qui enferment les collaborateurs dans de nouvelles contraintes… lui laissant toujours une petite place pour développer la seule facette de son intelligence nécessaire à la réalisation du travail qu’on lui demande. L’honneur et le statu quo sont saufs.

Et quand les contraintes posées autours de plein de petites boîtes (qu’on appelle alors “silos”) empêchent l’entreprise d’avancer de manière satisfaisante, on met en place… des chefs de projets. C’est à dire que le management va payer des gens à forcer le travail au travers de murs qu’il a lui-même mis en place. Là est l’hypocrisie ! Et lorsque cela échoue (c’est à dire que dans 90% des cas, l’avancement n’est pas assez rapide et efficace), on blâme… les chefs de projets (lesquels blâment les collaborateurs, ayant bien compris qu’il n’est pas bon de critiquer le management) !

Et lorsqu’on est obligé de gérer trop de projets parce qu’il y a trop de contraintes qui empêchent le travail de se faire seul, on met en place… une gestion de portefeuille de projets !

Et enfin, lorsque plus rien ne fonctionne que fait-on ? On demande de l’aide à des consultants, lesquels vont alors proposer des solutions que les collaborateurs avaient déjà imaginées. Et là, soit cela se fait (violemment et donc augmente le cynisme des collaborateurs), soit ne se fait pas parce que les managers n’aiment pas le ton des consultants (pour ceux qui osent tourner le miroir de leur côté), et le rapport finit dans un tiroir (augmentant donc ainsi également le cynisme des collaborateurs).

Au final, les managers demandent à d’autres personnes de forcer les contraintes qu’ils ont eux-mêmes mises en place, situation dont ils nient la responsabilité, tout en refusant les marques d’expertises qui chercheraient à démontrer l’inanité de ces contraintes et les supprimer.

Managers: arrêtez de pensez que vous êtes meilleurs que vos employés pour arranger le travail. C’est rarement le cas puisque dans la majorité des situations, vous ne pratiquez plus ce travail !

Vous avez un rôle à jouer dans l’entreprise, et un rôle important : celui de collecter une vision plus globale et systémique que celle de vos collaborateurs (occupés qu’ils sont sur leur travail), et leur en faire bénéficier, en toute transparence.

Votre rôle n’est pas de mettre des frontières autour des gens pour qu’ils restent dans leurs boîtes et de continuer à avoir une vision globale dont vous ne savez que faire parce qu’elle ne rentre évidemment pas dans les boîtes que vous avez érigées.

Vous avez bien de la chance quand vos collaborateurs acceptent encore de travailler sous les contraintes que vous leurs imposez. Et tous vos programmes de motivation n’y changeront rien si vous ne changez pas le problème de fond : votre mode de management. Au contraire : un programme de remotivation qui n’adresserait pas les causes profondes ne ferait qu’augmenter, à terme, le désengagement.

Quelle légitimité puis-je avoir à dire cela ?

Quelles solutions ? Elles sont nombreuses mais je n’en citerai que deux. Attention, c’est violent. Mais je crois que ce sont les plus valables. Plus simple et plus timide, ce ne serait que cautère sur jambe de bois. Il faut être plus radical pour être efficace.

  • Lancer des transformations de l’entreprise où le collaborateur et le client sont vraiment mis au centre (avec des bénéfices en conséquence, et non l’inverse) au travers, par exemple, de programmes Lean. Pas de fausses améliorations : par pitié, laissez faire les experts et acceptez de tester, à fond, leurs préconisations, si radicales qu’elles soient (ou si proches que vous pensiez qu’elles soient de vos pratiques actuelles : vous verrez qu’en fait vous vous trompez)
  • Libérer votre entreprise en donnant vraiment les clés de l’organisation à l’ensemble des collaborateurs et supprimez les postes de manager hiérarchique pour les remplacer par des managers élus d’activité précises. Allez lire la BD sur l’Holacracy, tentez une approche plus progressive avec la Socicoracy 3.0 ou lisez le livre plus générique de Frédéric Laloux : Reinventing Organizations. Y’a même un Wiki en cours d’élaboration ou des vidéos.

Sinon, arrêtez de vous plaindre de vos entreprises qui dysfonctionnent, laissez-nous faire notre boulot, mais ne nous demandez pas le bonheur au travail, tant que vous n’aurez pas changé.

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

Advantages of using #TWI Job Instructions from @TheBilasGroup

I was searching for these in the TWI materials, and found this excellent, exhaustive list of TWI JIT advantages from The Bilas Group.

Nothing else to do. If you ever need to give arguments to a CEO about deploying JIT (Job Instructions Training), this is the list to use.

Besides, you’d better know your Management Contact Manual as well!

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