The Origins of Cap-Do in My Work: Hansei 0

I highly encourage you to listen or read this conversation between Michael Balle and myself. It is at the heart of Kaizen, PDCA and Lean.

Mike Balle on the Culture of PDCA:

Podcast: Gemba Coach talks PDCA,

Transcription: Is PDCA the culture of Lean?

Reflection on these points may be the most important part of this entire weeks Blog on Kaizen.

Kaizen and PDCA does not work without the process of reflection or in Japanese, Hansei. There are three key components of Hansei:

  1. Recognize that there is a problem – a gap between expectations and achievement – and be open to negative feedback.
  2. Voluntarily take responsibility and feel deep regret.
  3. Commit to a specific course of action to improve.

The first step, acknowledge that there is room for improvement is not that difficult. However, putting a number to it may be a different story. When we create a performance gap we identify 2 things, one where we are at now and where do we want to go. Of course we may not get there overnight but there will be limitations. You have to determine what is realistic to achieve. A simple but effective way of looking at it is, “From what to what by when”.

The second step can simply be stated – don’t look for excuses. Take responsibility, feel a little humility and move forward. Without this, you will never fully release from the past and it may be much more difficult to bring fresh ideas to the table. This is your action plan to move forward. However, without step 2, you will seldom be passionate about step 3. It will just be another effort and ownership will be limited. Ownership cannot be done without an emotional attachment.

The steps of Respect first, Reflection second will drive the 3rd step of Kaizen or continuous improvement. This is the process and culture of PDCA. It is the embodiment of tension, a performance gap to send you off on a new path. This path acts as expanding spiral of co-creation of knowledge. Few companies will take this path. Few companies will take the time to develop the level of respect required. Even fewer will use Hansei and look at performance gaps releasing their own pre-determined reasons. Few will ever practice continuous improvement. Will you?

This introduction to Hansei is what spurred me into my thinking and investigation on CAP-Do. What makes CAP-Do so attractive is that it assumes we do not have the answers. It allows us to create a systematic way to address the problems (pain) or opportunities (gain) from the use of our products and services.


The Team is Not Responsible for Teamwork 2

Successful Lean teams are iTeams

When I use this term, it is based on a simple theory that Teamwork Is an Individual Skill. In this book by Christopher Avery he describes a team as a group of individuals responding successfully to the opportunity presented by shared responsibility.

Paraphrased from the book:

Your ability to create high quality, productive relationships is fast becoming the most important factor in getting your work done. It once was management’s job to hand out individual jobs and then integrate them. Now, organizations are giving the work to teams in larger chinks and expecting teams to divide the work in an effective and efficient manner.

In Lean Engagement Teams the individual must come first and the reason there must be an I at the beginning of team, hence the iTeam.

Avery goes on to state:

  • Every individual at work can be far more productive if they will take complete responsibility for the quality and productivity of each team or relationship of which they are part of. It means that..
  • You may have individual accountabilities, but accomplishing these will almost always depend on successful relationships with others and their work.
  • You can better attend to you own accountabilities when you assume responsibility for a larger, share task or deliverable.
  • You success depends on teams. Teamwork is an individual – not –group – skill and should be treated as such.
  • Individuals make a huge difference in teams, for better or worse. You can easily earn what kind of difference you make and how to build and rebuild a team.

The team concept in Lean thinking is very much individual driven. The individuals that form the team are the reason for the failures and the successes. Dr, Michael Balle and I discussed Individual Kaizen in this video:

As we start engaging our customers in the spirit of collaboration, co-producing and co-creation we must remember that are internal actions will mimic our external actions. The importance of the iTeam will become intensified and transparent in all of our external engagements. We must be willing to accept that as individuals and organizations as we move forward.

There is always a debate on tools and the thinking processes of lean.When you talk about a system, one of the first things that I think of is the tools that are used in the system. I use the tools to make sense out of a system, but I thought that Michael Balle might feel differently with that statement. In a Business901 Podcast (recommended) I asked him, “How do you relate the tools and the thinking processes of lean?”

Michael responded: “I don’t know if you know this Zen story: when you haven’t studied Zen, you see the mountain as a mountain. Then if you really study Zen very hard then you no longer see the mountain as a mountain. But when you understand Zen, you see the mountain as a mountain. I feel the same thing about the tools.

When you first study lean, you start with the tools. Then you study it more and you get into something that is about thinking, or philosophy, or whatever. But when you do it a lot, you forget about the tools. I think the tools are essentially very important. However, I have a different take on what the tools mean.

The way I see lean as a management system is essentially a knowledge transfer system; it’s a training system. So what the tools are, the tools to me are self?study exercises to understand your processes better, it’s like a microscope or a telescope. The tool is a way to look into problems and they never solve problems by themselves.

Many people have used the tools or have wanted to implement some sort of solutions to these tools thinking it would make them better. I think that’s kind of beside the point. What makes you better is using the tool rigorously, so you understand your problems, and your own processes and then, with hard work, take the time to figure out how to solve them. It’s this process, it’s the process of solving your own problem that empowers you and which leads you to create better and more performing processes.”

I think the trend right now is to discourage the use of tools and treat Lean as a culture. I believe we are not seeing the mountain. I believe we should be embracing technology. When used correctly, I think Michael is right and leading with the tools and embracing them will empower us to do greater things. They are meant for us to see deeper, not less. We need to see the mountain again.

Lean Engagement Team (More Info): The ability to share and create knowledge with your customer is the strongest marketing tool possible.

The Starting Point for Kaizen is You 0

Before you start a company-wide Kaizen, you may want to look at yourself and the collection of individuals that make up the organization. Below is three different views of how an individual applies themselves to their roles.

Dr Balle and I had a conversation on Kaizen which resulted in an 8-week series of videos and a podcast. Below is a 34 page transcription of the discussion. I think you will find it entertaining and will provide a different way of viewing continuous improvement and Kaizen.

An excerpt from the transcription:

Joe: Michael, when you talk about Kaizen, you talk about Kaizen on an individual basis. Can you explain that?

Michael Balle: Absolutely. Kaizen is always individual. There’s a difference in perspective, and we’re very biased by our Taylorist pasts. Our understanding we usually have is that performance is the result of processes. We all buy that, and its fine. Our thinking is that if you hit each of these processes with an improvement project, and people call it Kaizen but it’s not, then the results should be improved performance.

Evidence over the past 20 years has shown that this is not the case. What you do have is quick hits. You can have some savings, or you have some low?hanging fruit, but you don’t have the improvement we’re looking for.

The other way of looking at this is that any process is just a collection of individuals. If each individual is better at their job, then collectively they will come up with a process that performs better and delivers in performance. I think this is the key to understanding. Kaizen is an individual activity to make you better at your job. This is something we see with Lean students.

After studying Lean for a while, you ask them the question, “Do you feel you’re mastering Lean better?” and they say, “Well, no. The system, it seems still as mysterious and deep and hard to master.” You ask them the second question, “Are you better at your jobs? Do you feel you’re better at your jobs?” They say, “No debate, Absolutely, yes.” They’re confident that they’re a lot better at their jobs. This is what Kaizen is about.

Kaizen is about improving you, Joe. By doing Kaizen, you will improve how you see your job and how you perform at your job. This will make you stop making some classic mistakes, for this will also make you discover innovative ways of doing your job.

As we all pull together with a deeper understanding of our jobs, we create processes that our competitors can never touch. In order to hold those better processes, each of us has to be better at our jobs.

Verna Allee, M.A., is Co-founder and CEO of Value Networks LLC, located at ValueNetworks.com. Verna was my guest on the Business901 Podcast, What’s behind Collaboration and Value Networks?. We discussed the history of knowledge management and how her work has evolved into value networks. Value Network philosophies also apply to Lean, Agile and into sales and marketing arena. I find this area fascinating as we rid ourselves of hierarchy, positions and titles and delve into that mysterious area of roles!

An excerpt from the transcript:

Verna: What we manage, very simply, are our own roles. So if we look at it from the perspective of “In my role, I manage my inputs and my outputs.” When we have a healthy value network, you look at any given role and the number of inputs and outputs are manageable. If it’s too much, you’ve got a problem. You’ve got a bottleneck; you need to redesign.

There’s some kind of a healthy ratio of tangibles and intangibles. When you look at your role, you should be able to say “Oh, that’s not so hard. I can do that.” If it is overwhelming when you look at it from where you stand in the network, then you probably have some redesigning to do. I always like to say the center of the network is where you are.

You may need to see that larger picture around you. You may need to be able to see out there at the far horizon of the network. But when it comes to practical everyday work, what we manage is simply our own roles. And when people model the network, they negotiate their roles and just what they understand. I don’t understand everything about how you play your role, but I can negotiate with you about how you and I interact.

In a past Business901 blog post, How do you handle inputs into your life?, I discussed the book A Factory of One: Applying Lean Principles to Banish Waste and Improve Your Personal Performance. I followed this up with a podcast featuring the author, Dan Markovitz, founder and owner of TimeBack Management. Timeback is a consultancy specializing in improving individual and organizational performance through the application of lean concepts.

This is an excerpt from the podcast:

Joe: If you really sit back and take a look at what you are doing or have to do, that you have much more control over the situation than you think. Applying the Pareto Principle, you have a lot of control?.

Dan: “I think often we do. I think oftentimes there is a lot more room for improvement than we realize. We just haven’t bothered looking. We just say, “Oh yeah, I get interrupted all the time.” “Oh yeah, I get these problems.” But we don’t really understand why because we’ve never stopped to really grasp the situation. The other thing, where I think Lean is really important, comes in the notion of visual management. I hear people saying all the time, “You know, I feel like I’m always reactive. I’m not proactive. I’m always being tactical. I can never be strategic.”

They cite the same thing that you talked about ? an email comes in that’s kind of important or my boss comes in and says, “We have to do X, Y, and Z.” I think what I see is that because we are knowledge workers our work tends to be invisible. It tends to reside in bits and bytes of electrons of data sitting in our email inbox, sitting in a document somewhere on our computer desktop, whatever.

But it’s not real visible. It’s not like an engine assembly in front of you. It’s not like a fan blade that you’re working on in front of you. As a consequence what happens is that it’s very easy to pull my attention away from what I’m working on.

I think visual management, the notion of taking the work that you’re doing and somehow making it more visible, making it more visual, enables us to better judge whether we should be responding to this new problem rather than the thing that we were working on.

So again, the simple example, Joe, would be, I am working on something and then an email comes in, and I look at it and I say, “Oh, boy. I’m going to handle this,” and I get distracted by that. The problem is I don’t know what I’m supposed to be working on. Because my work is relatively invisible, I don’t really have the ability to say which is truly more important, this new thing that came in or this old thing that I was supposed to be working on.

And so what happens is we’re always distracted by the squeaky wheel and we start giving it the oil or the grease, instead of saying, “Gosh, this wheel maybe squeaking, but I’ve got much bigger issues to take care of.”

I think ideas that you see in something like Jim Benson’s Personal Kanban, that’s one way of making the work visible. You’ve got the physical representation of it on a white board and now you can say, “These are the three things that I am working on now. This is my work in progress. Oops. Here comes something new. Well, is it more important than these three things, yes or no?” If the answer is yes, well then, great, change. If the answer is no, well then, figure out how you are going to handle it.

Stick with what you are doing and then figure out how you are going to cue up that new thing, or hand it off to someone else or ignore it or whatever.”

Michael Balle:

Podcast: Audio Collection of Dr. Balle on Kaizen

Transcription: Kaizen is Always Individual

Video Series: Dr. Balle Friday Video Series


Is Kaizen the Underlying Culture of Lean? 0

As much as Leader Standard Work is the organizational structure to develop and sustain a Lean Organization, Kaizen is the underlying culture. I recommend reading Chapters 1, 2 and 8 through 10 in The Toyota Way Fieldbook. I believe this will provide a bridge between Leader Standard Work and Kaizen.

In a podcast with the authors of Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Continuous Improvements, I asked co-author Mark Graban…

Joe: Does the book introduce Kaizen at a pretty basic level for everybody to understand?

Mark: It really does. We say it’s change, but the word “Kaizen,” if you break it down into its two Japanese root words, “kai” means change and “zen” means good. It’s not just change. It’s making sure it’s change for the better, and that it’s really an improvement. That’s one of the core fundamental things that we wrote about. Not all changes are good. We need to make sure that we’re following a good, systematic but not overly complicated Plan-Do-Study-Adjust cycle. It comes back to the Deming cycle of not just doing things, but doing things as a test with a hypothesis and making sure, “Did we really get the results that we expected?”

There are three different levels of Kaizen if we follow the Shingo Prize Criteria.

  1. Tool-driven Kaizen: We do a Kaizen event for every improvement. You end up thinking the event solves your problems and in reality the effectiveness is pretty limited.
  2. System-driven Kaizen: Common for most people and highlighted in the book “Learning to See”. These are Kaizen events and improvement projects that are related to, values for improvement plans.
  3. Principa-driven Kaizen: This is system-driven Kaizen plus daily Kaizen. This is really where you get empowered, and engage people. This is the true meaning of Kaizen where it is done each and every day. It doesn’t have to be a big Kaizen event. It could be something as simple as; “I want to move this particular file from point A to point B.”

I have had the fortune to discuss intimately with several people that I consider “leaders” in the world of Kaizen and Kaizen events. I will quote them quite extensively through the next several daysi and encourage you to listen to the podcasts or read the transcriptions that are contained in the following pages. In the next pages, I will start with the Kaizen Culture and finish with events. I will also include material from Patrick Lencioni. His material, I believe supports Kaizen and Kaizen cultures without the connotation of “Lean” and Toyota in its verbage.

The definitive source on Kaizen is a book written by Masaaki Imai, Kaizen: The Key To Japan’s Competitive Success.

Marketing with PDCA (More Info): Targeting what your Customer Values is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitates the journey to Customer Value.


Developing Fast Competitive Cycles 0

The resurgence or maybe recognition of the use of the The OODA Loop as a basis for much of the current ideas surrounding Iterations, Rapid Development Cycles and Decision Making. What makes the OODA Loop such a popular subject? When we first think of the OODA Loop we think of fast competitive cycles needed by a fighter pilot to gain a differential advantage. Is that the reason?

OODA LoopA little more insight was provided several years ago in an article, The Strategy of the Fighter Pilot written by: Keith H. Hammonds for Fast Company. An excerpt from the article:

Business is a dogfight. Your job as a leader: Outmaneuver the competition, respond decisively to fast-changing conditions, and defeat your rivals. That’s why the OODA loop, the brainchild of “40 Second” Boyd, an unconventional fighter pilot, is one of today’s most important ideas in battle or in business.

Bower and Hout’s classic example — and one that Boyd also studied — was Toyota, which designed its organization to speed information, decisions, and materials through four interrelated cycles: product development, ordering, plant scheduling, and production. Self-organized, multifunctional teams at Toyota, they observed, developed products and manufacturing processes in response to demand, turning out new models in just three years compared with Detroit’s cycle of four or five.

Systems like Toyota’s worked so well, Boyd argued, because of schwerpunkt, a German term meaning organizational focus. Schwerpunkt, Boyd wrote, “represents a unifying medium that provides a directed way to tie initiative of many subordinate actions with superior intent as a basis to diminish friction and compress time.” That is, employees decide and act locally, but they are guided by a keen understanding of the bigger picture.

In effective organizations, schwerpunkt connects vibrant OODA loops that are operating concurrently at several levels. Workers close to the action stick to tactical loops, and their supervisors travel in operational loops, while leaders navigate much broader strategic and political loops. The loops inform each other: If everything is clicking, feedback from the tactical loops will guide decisions at higher loops and vice versa.

It has been noted in the latest work by such authors as Bll Dettmer, The Logical Thinking Process: A Systems Approach to Complex Problem Solving and Don Reinertsen, The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development. Even more popular use of Boyd’s OODA Loop is the Lean Startup by Eric Reis and his influential writings on the Customer Development Cycle utilizing the OODA Loop as a basis.

Dr. Terry Barnhart, the Senior Director Strategy and Continuous Improvement at Pfizer Global R&D discussed the OODA Loop in a Business901 Podcast, Applying the OODA Loop to Lean. We expand this theory into some practical applications. One of the takeaways from the conversation is using the OODA Loop outside of rapid deployment. The use of it he expresses is in the adaption of it through the uses of various time cycles.

In the most common use of the OODA Loop, adaption is rather direct. At the strategic level it involves around adjusting procedures, systems, processes and ideology. Boyd advocated an agile cellular organization with some explicit control mechanism and feedback loops but one more reliant on common frames of reference and shared ideas. He always contended that Command was about clarity of ones goals and philosophies versus the traditional form of command and control thought of it in a hierarchy structure. I enjoy the description that Frans Osinga discusses in his book Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd (Strategy and History), (highly recommend – not an easy read though) is that “Higher Command must shape the Decision Space of subordinate commanders.“ Actually, that is a pretty good description of Standard Work, is it not?

Related Posts:
Key Marketing Concepts from the Korean War
Boyd’s Law of Iteration: Speed beats Quality :

One of my favorite Leadership videos.


SDCA & PDCA Are Needed For EDCA 0

SDCA and PDCA prepare you to maximize EDCA or Design. 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.

Design and Innovation takes place outside the four walls and Lean can be the methodology of choice. It drives both the Little i and the Big I. The first and foremost reason is that it allows for the 1st step of innovation, the little i. Lean is the primary driver for the little i – PDCA. As a result, it allows for that culture to spread and create the DNA for the BIG I. Without Lean and the little i, you may never start!


From Tina Seelig’s book inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity:

Below is the fully functional Innovation Engine, showing how all the parts are braided together. Innovation EngineThe inside of the engine is intertwined with the outside; and the factors on the inside and outside mirror each other. All the parts of your Innovation Engine are inexorably connected and deeply influence one another.

  • Your attitude sparks your curiosity to acquire related knowledge.
  • Your knowledge fuels your imagination, allowing you to generate innovative ideas.
  • Your imagination catalyzes the creation of stimulating habitats, leveraging the resources in your environment.
  • These habitats, along with your attitude, influence the culture in your community.

Essentially, creativity is an endless resource, initiated by your drive to tackle challenges and to seize opportunities. Anything and everything can spark your Innovation Engine —every word, every object, every decision, and every action. Creativity can be enhanced by honing your ability to observe and learn, by connecting and combining ideas, by reframing problems, and by moving beyond the first right answers. You can boost your creative output by building habitats that foster problem solving, crafting environments that support the generation of new ideas, building teams that are optimized for innovation, and contributing to a culture that encourages experimentation.

You hold the keys to your Innovation Engine and have creative genius waiting to be unleashed. By tapping into this natural resource, you have the power to overcome challenges and generate opportunities of all dimensions. Your ideas—big and small—are the critical starting point for innovations that propel us forward. Without creativity, you are trapped in a world that is not stagnant, but one that slips backwards. As such, we are each responsible for inventing the future. Turn the key.

The little “i” provided through SDCA and PDCA defined as the Lean Culture will stimulate the knowledge, imagination, and attitude to create something from nothing. You have the skills needed. Creativity, Design and Imagination are all learned practices. Your own Innovation Engine consists of:

  • SDCA: Standard Work that creates a CAN-DO attitude and free up time to spark problem solving.
  • Applying PDCA, allowing you to “see” opportunities for improvement.
  • A Continuous Improvement Culture (Kaizen) catalyzes the creation of stimulating habitats, leveraging the resources in your environment.
  • These habitats, along with your attitude, influence the culture in your community (The Customer Experience will mimic the Employee Experience).

Now that we have prepared ourselves, we can now tackle the big “I” of Innovation.

Review this Slideshow and pay particular attention to the productive section. This is a description of breakthrough improvement or EDCA.