by , on 03 May 2013 08:57 am

Kaizen Facilitation: is what you don’t do more important than what you do?

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As you facilitate lean improvement events, I hope the distillation from a few recent experiences below benefit you as they have me

1)      Other than shaping the skeleton of the event with leaders and teaching the principles of lean, speak rarely. Set up the experience, and the experience teaches the team: they teach each other the current state; they simulate improvement, and struggle with the principles in action – deciphering how they might apply to their reality.

2)       Intervene with the group only when they are absolutely stuck from moving forward toward some improvement they want to try.

3)      If they are stuck, share subtle, high level examples of how the principles might apply, and then let them go back to grappling with the problem.

4)      Even if they want to try something that is not the “best option” in relation to the lean principles – that’s okay – when they try it, they will see for themselves.

5)      When you teach and intervene – never water down the principles due to a perception of the magnitude of the change for the team or any other reason. The principles never change, and the wisdom of them to the problem the team is trying to solve will become apparent as they wrestle with it.

6)      Don’t argue or try to convince in a conference room. Don’t get angry, frustrated, or desperate. There will be a high deal of tension as the chasm between the current state and the lean principles becomes clear. This will bring out various emotions from the team. We must trust that the principles will prove themselves as the team improves their process – and therefore not feel the ownership of making sure all questions are answered or misperceptions corrected.

If you try these, please share the results!

Popularity: 12% [?]

2 Responses to “Kaizen Facilitation: is what you don’t do more important than what you do?”

  1. on 04 May 2013 at 11:33 am 1.Jon Miller said …

    7) Give people a way to articulate their emotions, rather than just have them. Use a visual emotion meter, a quick temperature check exercise, or cycle through laughter / anger / boredom as a group. Helps give people permission to feel bad / tense, rather than feeling bad about feeling bad.

  2. on 06 May 2013 at 10:14 am 2.Mark Welch said …

    These are excellent learnings from your experience, Erica. What I am conflicted by is the limited time I am given to work with a team vs. the need for them to break through and get some solid results. We don’t do formal kaizen events – we take a project approach, normally start with a full day to get through the Plan phase of PDSA, then meet intermittently to D0/STUDY/ACT. We ARE having excellent outcomes, however. I constantly feel the tug of “let them struggle” with some illumination on my part against the reality that my time with them is very limited. It’s a judgment call with each team, and not often an easy one, but it’s forced me to be more lean with the time I have.

    For example, when we begin with a project we’ll start with the background, metrics, learn about seeing waste, then get right to the gemba to observe. And, while observing we note the task steps, wastes, handoffs, etc. on stickies so we are ready to map right when we get back to the meeting room. After the mapping we’ll do some RCA, then I’ll train them on the lean principles, fundamentals, and tools that I see as most applicable based on what we saw at the gemba just in time before we develop a future state.

    Our culture IS developing, however. We’re now moving into A3 training with formal and informal leaders right in their areas with limited assistance on my part and we’re seeing some good engagement. We’re PDSAing our journey as we go.

    This experienced has reinforced my notion that lean isn’t all about kaizen events. We’ve got to be sensitive to the culture and situation of the organization in which we’re applying lean. Small hospitals like ours don’t have the extra money or people to do 2-day VSAs or 4-day RIEs. Kaizen events are fine if they fit – if not, there are certainly other ways to embrace lean. Our hospital is proof.

    Nice post! Keep the learning coming!

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