In Franklin Covey’s, The 4 Disciplines of Execution, they use the term the “Whirlwind” in the same manner as I think about Standard Work. As they describe operating outside the whirlwind (SDCA) think of that as PDCA or EDCA depending on if you are looking for incremental or breakthrough type improvement. You have to allocate a certain amount of time to build a PDCA culture. Many consultants will tell you that this is the culture and should be instilled in way you go about your work. I agree but this will not happen without making is a habit first. One of the reasons maybe that I like the 4 Disciplines is that they are closely related to the practice of PDCA. It is PDCA without calling it PDCA. In fact, I cannot remember in any Lean Engagement that I did not cover this material.
The 4 disciplines can be summarized:
- (Plan) Focus on the Wildly Important (WIG): Execution starts with focus. Focus on the one or two goals that will make all the difference, instead of giving mediocre effort to dozens of goals.
- (Do) Act on the Lead Measures: Apply a disproportionate amount of energy to the activities that drive these lead measures. In this way, your team is creating the present while focused on the WIG.
- (Check) Keep a Compelling Scoreboard: If you know the score all the time, people will be engaged.
- (Act) Create a Cadence of Accountability: A frequent recurring cycle of accounting for past performance and planning to move the score forward. Great teams operate with a high level of accountability.
One of my takeaways from the book was this statement: “Accountability means making the personal commitments to the entire team to move the scores forward and then following through in a discipline way.’ Closely resembling a past blog post, Kaizen is Always Individual.
Dan Pink’s book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is an excellent description of modern day Lean practices. Just using the example of Mastery from the book will give you an idea on how powerful of a process Lean actually is. I would encourage you to visit the Mastery chapter in Dan Pink’s Drive book for more background. He states that mastery is based on three laws:
- Mastery is a mindset
- Mastery is a Pain
- Mastery is an Asymptote
He also states that flow is essential to mastery: “But flow doesn’t guarantee mastery—because the two concepts operate on different horizons of time. One happens in a moment; the other unfolds over months, years, sometimes decades. You and I each might reach flow tomorrow morning—but neither one of us will achieve mastery overnight.” In Lean terminology, I can restate these same three laws this way:
- Lean is a culture
- Lean is grounded in Standard Work
- Lean is an Ideal
We also think of Lean in terms of creating flow. But just as flow does not guarantee mastery, flow does not allow us to become Lean. Flow happens along the way of becoming Lean. Many people think they are Lean companies once they have done 5S, Value Stream Mapping or held a few Kaizen Events. The truth is just like mastering anything, it does not happen overnight.
Why does it take so long? Why do so few achieve it? From Dan Pink again: “Mastery is a pain.” That is why it seldom is done. When implementing Lean, most people draw the wrong conclusion and assume it is Leadership. They blame leadership as being shortsighted. This view is not only wrong; it is dead wrong. Our primary problem is not leadership but a long standing culture that is engrained within our organizations. It’s the way we do things. But worse it is also the way others help us do things. The outside forces that surround us to include vendors, customers and for that matter our entire supply chain simply supports the way we have always done things. So, not only do we have to create change internally but externally as well. It is not only a pain but it has to be someone else’s pain.
What does work is the same thing for both people and organizations. It is the scientific process of trial and error. You don’t get it right at first, you have to break habits, personal habits as an individual and company cultures as an organization. Successful companies do it a little bit at a time. In Lean, we call this scientific method PDCA. We plan, do it, check the results and adjust. It is a purposeful experimentation.
In the book, Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success the authors created a strategic, step-by-step guide to breaking longstanding bad habits introduce a system for adopting-and sticking to-better behaviors. I found the work paralleling Lean in many of its approaches and put Lean practices in parenthesis. Their strategy is based on four simple steps:
- Identify Crucial Moments (Identify Value)
- Create Vital Behaviors (Map Value Stream)
- Engage All Six Sources of Influence (Create Flow – Enable Pull)
- Turn Bad Days into Good Data (Seek Perfection – PDCA)
Try out your first PDCA Effort
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We use PDCA to provide a flexible structure and create a team with shared responsibility and authority for a successful outcome. The plan is in creating an effective way for teams to work, create, share and capture knowledge during the sales cycle. It has been said that less than 20% of the knowledge within a company is captured. PDCA is an effective methodology that can be utilized to counteract this. It is first and foremost a learning tool that emphasizes the creation, sharing and capturing of knowledge. It is also a people process that emphasizes learning by doing and as a result focuses on making things happen.
People can be participating on one type of team, two or all three teams. Even though it is hard to imagine that there would not be both SDCA and PDCA in everyone’s job, there may not be EDCA. Or, it may only be on an infrequent basis. What I encourage though is that the time spent is clearly defined with emphasis on handling one hour of PDCA a week as there is thirty hours of SDCA. It should be a very fluid process. I am not trying to split hairs about time just trying to reinforce a point.
One of the key considerations in developing a team is to determine the objective of the cycle. Is it primarily problem resolution, creativity, or tactical execution? Team structure needs to be considered as well as the participants. You will find a variety of structures will work for you, but the typical model is one of a business team that has a team leader, and all others are on equal footing. Many times the team leader is really just a participant but has the administrative work as an added responsibility.
Think about the kind of team needed: Tactical execution(SDCA), Problem Resolution (PDCA), and Creativity (EDCA). Separate the sessions so people know which hat they are wearing when. Without this process, you may have creative teams working on tactical execution or on the other hand a problem-solving team working on a creative solution.
Once you’ve identified the team’s broadest objective—problem resolution, creativity, or tactical execution—then you set up a team structure that emphasizes the characteristic that is most important for that kind of team. For a problem-resolution team, you emphasize trust for a creativity team, autonomy, and for a tactical-execution team, clarity. Listed below is an outline identifying the team structures (adapted from Teamwork and the Rapid Development books):
- Objective: Focuses on solving a complex, poorly defined problems.
- Dominant Feature: Trust
- Sales Process Example: Sales inquiry for proposal
- Process emphasis: Focus on issues
- Lifecycle Models: Try and Fix, spiral
- Team Members: Intelligent, street-smart, people-sensitive, high integrity
- Team Models: Business team, professional athletic team, search and rescue, SWAT