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A Lean Interpretation of Professor Christensen’s Talk

I base my Lean Thinking on 3 principles. Standardization, Improvement, and Exploration. The little “i” of innovation is provided through SDCA and PDCA. Standard Work (SDCA) creates a can-do attitude and frees up time for problem-solving. Applying PDCA, allows you to “see” opportunities for improvement and leverages the resources in your environment. I like to use the term EDCA learned from Graham Hill to designate the Explore aspect of Lean. I view it as more of Design Type thinking content that allows for that collaborative learning cycle with a customer.

Companies need innovative practices. It is where development and the Big I of innovation (EDCA) occur. Companies need all three. These components along with your attitude influences and defines the Lean culture. PDCA is the glue. Without that mindset- it is difficult to traverse between the 3 and I think all successful companies have a mixture of all three. Some may be more innovative, some may be more standard, but having a practice in place for each, is what makes Lean successful (IMHO).

Lean Thinking

I was in a discussion the other night with Mike Rother on the adoption of Toyota Kata thinking in the Lean community. He asked me if I had viewed the Clayton Christensen video on YouTube where Mike had commented, “Professor Christensen explains why just pursuing efficiency is not enough, which is an important message for the next generation of Lean thinkers.” After viewing the video, my thoughts, drifted back to how well the Gateway of SDCA-PDCA-EDCA applied to this Christensen presentation.

Toyota Kata is documented in Mike Rother’s book Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results.

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Does Kata help in Spreading Knowledge in an Organization?

I skipped a podcast session this week because of the holidays. However, I will be back next week with Shingo Prize winning author, Conrad Soltero. Conrad won the Shingo Prize as the principal author of The 7 Kata: Toyota Kata, TWI, and Lean Training. It was published in 2012 by Productivity Press.

An excerpt from the upcoming podcast:

Joe: How do you think Kata helps in spreading knowledge through an organization?

Conrad Soltero: It’s really about two things here. We’re talking about really tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. For you to get your big bang for the buck is on the tacit knowledge side, we’re very good in the industry at documenting all that explicit knowledge. What we’re very poor at is really understanding the constraints of our colleagues in management. If I’m an engineer, understanding HR’s, the HR Manager’s constraints or accounting constraints or any other area in the company’s constraints. It’s really important for me in order to make proper decisions and knowledgeable decision. What Improvement Kata does is create a mechanism so the dissemination of this tacit knowledge through the understanding of other people’s constraints and I think that’s really important in how it really affects the behavioral mechanics or as I like to say the organizational dynamics within that organization.

Joe: How do I actually capture that? What would be examples of how to take that knowledge and make it visible or usable?

Conrad: We really haven’t nailed it down because Tacit knowledge by definition isn’t something that you’re really going to document. What it does is gives appreciation. The way it is done is when you’re doing your Kata, your 15-minute daily Kata as a manager, you have this target condition and instead of going and making a decision on how to get to the target decision, you run experiments. These experiments may actually be an implementation, you’re trying something or maybe just speaking with other people. What I found in coaching this is that by going out and talking with other people and just asking them why they do things a certain way and how what I do affects them and that kind of interaction really gives me a deep sense of what’s going on in the organization. I always hear, “You know, I didn’t realize that” or “I didn’t know that until I spoke to the person specifically about that and without telling them what I wanted.” Because, once you tell someone what you want, they’ll respond in sometimes a negative way by putting up a wall and saying, “Well, this person just wants this and wants that.” When they really believe you’re interested in what they’re doing and what their constraints are, that’s when they really open up to you and I think that’s the dynamic that we’ve been missing so long.

What I like to say is this. You’re Kaizen event or your rapid improvement event is about improvement and, oh, by the way, you may learn something. What I like to say about the Kata is, Kata is about learning something and , oh, by the way, you may make an improvement and you eventually will make that improvement. It’s really about learning and it’s not so much about improvement. What you learn is just incredible, and again, it’s on the tacit knowledge side.

If you want to talk about the documentation, I would go back to Job Instruction and actually producing that job breakdown sheet. That carries a lot of explicit information that everyone needs to know in order to perform those jobs correctly.

Toyota Kata was popularized by Mike Rother

Related Podcast and Transcription with Conrad’s co-author Pat Boutier: Why and How of the 7 Kata

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A Framework for Building Collaboration

We collaborate externally and internally in our organization. It is something that we do to get things done. However, in this strange world we live in we often may collaborate one day and compete the next. Internally, we may fight another department for a needed resource. If you think we don’t, just sit in at the next budget meeting and see who fights for what allocation. Externally, we may partner with a company on one occasion, and on another directly compete. When working with someone, I often use the analogy that no matter what, we usually are going to overlap somewhere even if it is just a fight for prioritization of a customer’s budget.

In reading, Building Better Teams: 70 Tools and Techniques for Strengthening Performance Within and Across Teams, I came across an interesting framework that the authors called the Goals-Value Matrix. As you might surmise, it was one of the 70 tools that they propose in the book. An outtake from the book:

Goals are simply what we are trying to achieve in this particular context. They are not yet “joint” Goals. They are the goals the parties have in hand, in this shared context, as they come to the table. With goals shared, we can move on to values. Once again, we need to simplify an often complex and emotionally charged topic. To simplify, I define a value as What I hold as important when consciously taking a decision or action. This simple definition of values is true for all conscious choices. The parties ask themselves, in this context, and related to their goals, what they hold important when taking decisions or actions. With the answers on the table, they can again look for existing alignment.

 We might note that the process to this point is one of conversation and dialogue. Existing goals and values should be heard without judgment. Information is shared to help all assess current levels of alignment. Having put this information on the table and having built the groundwork for conversation and dialogue, we can now move into the shaping of joint Goals and the Values required to deliver them effectively. Only when alignment is high on both axes do we have true collaboration. In summary, the Goals-Values Matrix shows:

Cooperation Quadrant: Low alignment on Values with high alignment on Goals leads to Cooperation (we will work together to get the job done but forget about having lunch or dinner!).

Affiliation Quadrant: Low alignment on Goals with high alignment on Values leads to affiliation (we enjoy hanging out, sharing professional stories and ideas but are not looking to deliver something together).

Conflict Quadrant: Low alignment on both Goals and Values leads to conflict! (Remember we are working in the same competitive environment and context,)

Collaboration Quadrant: High alignment on both Goals and Values leads to collaboration (we become generative, creative, and capable of high performance, working in a mutual direction).

Goals-Value Matrix

What I like about this Matrix is that the goal, sorry for the pun, is it develops a current state. To determine where we are at on a given project with an external partner. It is not a judgement but an awareness of how well we are aligned and in what area. We could choose to work in present area or we could choose to move to another. If moving we would have to evaluate the changes needed to do this.

Though values stay fairly constant they should be something that we monitor and evaluate over time. Goals however change often, especially in a competitive space. Having conversations often about the project’s goal is important. It may be a leading indicator that the situation is changing and give you an opportunity to act accordingly.

You may also want to refer: Successful Lean teams are iTeams and What is your iCustomer Level

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How to Radically Transform Your Organization

This is a Part 3 of 3 blog posts on a series of books that Deloitte has sponsored that I think is outstanding. They are a follow-up to the book, The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion, This book has been one of my staples in the development of Lean Sales and Marketing and in particular on how I view creating demand.

Scaling Edges, the third book in the series, provides leaders with a methodology for creating change by staying on the edge of an organization, avoiding conflict with the core while building momentum for transformation, and ultimately overcoming the resistance from the core and emerging as a successful agent of change.

Purchase the Book on Amazon: Scaling Edges: How to Radically Transform Your Organization

You can also purchase the entire bundle as a set of 3: Big Shift Series Bundle: Shift Happens, Institutional Innovation, Scaling Edges

How to Help Your Organization Learn Faster and Thrive

This is a Part 2 of 3 blog posts on a series of books that Deloitte has sponsored that I think is outstanding. They are a follow-up to the book, The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion, This book has been one of my staples in the development of Lean Sales and Marketing and in particular on how I view creating demand.

Institutional Innovation, the second book in the series, explains how leaders can fundamentally improve the bringing together of talent, knowledge and capital to learn faster, problem-solve faster, and break free from “the way we’ve always done it.” This is a guidebook for embracing the opportunity of change.

Purchase the Book on Amazon: Institutional Innovation: How to Help Your Organization Learn Faster and Thrive

You can also purchase the entire bundle as a set of 3: Big Shift Series Bundle: Shift Happens, Institutional Innovation, Scaling Edges

How the World is Changing and What You Need To Do

This is a Part 1 of 3 blog posts on a series of books that Deloitte has sponsored that I think is outstanding. They are a follow-up to the book, The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion, This book has been one of my staples in the development of Lean Sales and Marketing and in particular on how I view creating demand.

Shift Happens, the first book in the series, explores the underlying forces driving the Big Shift and what actions companies and leaders can take. It addresses the fundamental changes affecting the world today, helping readers navigate the short-term challenges while taking steps to capture the long-term opportunities.

Purchase the Book on Amazon: Shift Happens: How the World Is Changing, and What You Need to Do About It

You can also purchase the entire bundle as a set of 3: Big Shift Series Bundle: Shift Happens, Institutional Innovation, Scaling Edges

Are Lean Salespeople Trusted with an Andon?

Peter Drucker had a catchy statement: “Efficiency is doing things right: effectiveness is doing the right thing.’ If you have enough foresight to know with certainty what the “right thing’ is in advance, then efficiency is a fitting substitution for effectiveness. In the world of Sales and Marketing, however, the correlation between efficiency and effectiveness breaks down. Linear thinking, prescriptive processes and practices are becoming less successful in today’s world. Andon

Many visualize the marketing cycle through the use of funnel thinking on how it narrows down to the actual purchase of the product. A linear approach to predict, plan, and proceed is a dangerous way to advance. This approach prematurely foresees a solution for the customer without ever understanding their needs. As we work our way down the funnel, it is just as likely evidence will mount that the proposed solution is wrong. However, we have so much invested we attempt to sway the course of action in our favor. Linear planning actually increases the risk for a customer to engage in an inappropriate course of action. Funnels are useful tools to have a conversation about but the truth is that more and more sales processes customers are unique. This approach was popularized when we had something we called Demand. Related posts on this subject:  Shaping your Customers Vision and Kill the Sales and Marketing Funnel.

In General McChrystal’s book Team of Teams he talks about the task force in Iran. The greatest army in the world with the most sophisticated weaponry and data available could not keep up. The model and leader development process were sorely out of date. He said,

“We often demand unrealistic levels of knowledge in leaders and force them into ineffective attempts to micromanage. The temptation to lead as a chess master, controlling each move of the organization, must give way to an approach as a gardener, enabling rather than directing. A gardening approach to leadership is anything but passive. The leader acts as an “Eyes-On, Hands-Off’ enabler who creates and maintains an ecosystem in which the organization operates.”

Related Posts about General McChrystal: Four Star General on Leadership–Listen, Learn… and Team Engagement in a Complex World

When we think of Lean and how we empower a line worker… are we doing the same for a sales person? Do we trust them with an Andon? Or are we asking them to follow a prescription? Are we showing the same respect…with a Eyes-On, Hands-Off approach?

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