Kaizen

Kaizen is Always Individual 0

Last spring, Dr Balle the Gemba Coach at the Lean Enterprise Institute and I had a conversation on Kaizen which resulted in an 8-week series of videos and a podcast. This 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.

Dr. Balle went on to say:

Really, the essence of Kaizen is building people an understanding, a vision, of the waste their technical choices imposes on the work chain. It is an individual thing as it is their technical choices and it is a collective thing as it’s not the waste they impose on themselves but the waste they impose on their suppliers, the waste they impose on their internal customers.

This conversation was one of the reasons I delayed publishing the Lean Engagement Team and more specifically the chapter on the iCustomer and iTeam. It did not change my thinking of teamwork and individual responsibility but it did re-frame the way I viewed and described those two subjects. The book is available as a PDF download on the Business901.com website or on Amazon:
Lean Engagement Team (Marketing with Lean, Volume 2) [Ring-bound]
Lean Engagement Team (Marketing with Lean, Volume 2) [CD-ROM]

The Kaizen Series
Dr. Balle Friday Video Series
Audio Collection of Dr. Balle on Kaizen

Successful Lean teams are iTeams 1

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:

No team in Kaizen

View more videos from Business901

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.

Are you willing to take that challenge?

A similar blog that was published after I had written this one: There IS an “I” in Team

Related Information:
The use of Hansei in Lean Sales and Marketing
Developing a winning Culture the Zappos way!

Group Therapy without a Word 1

From a tweet via RT @Ashley_Leach and @Jos_de_Jong, I viewed this Ted Video. Bobby McFerri gets the whole audience to sing together, without talking. In this fun, 3-min performance from the World Science Festival, musician Bobby McFerrin uses the pentatonic scale to reveal one surprising result of the way our brains are wired.

Engagement, compelling and fun happens in the most un-complicated ways. Can training be this easy?

Related Information:
Core Concepts of Gamification Brilliant – Learn by Doing
What is a great Team?
Why bother with Value Networks?
Identifying your Lean sales and marketing teams

Lean Sales and Marketing and the iCustomer 1

One of the main reasons that I have attached marketing to the Lean methodology is the simple approach that is used and termed “Learn by Doing.” The Toyota Production System is known for Kaizen/PDCA that is explicitly built upon learning-by-doing effects.

Kaizen is a daily process, the purpose of which goes beyond simple productivity improvement. It is a process that, when done correctly, humanizes the workplace, eliminates overly hard work, and teaches people how to perform experiments on their work using the scientific method – Wikpedia.

The use of “Learn by Doing” techniques is what drives my adaption of Lean in the Sales and Marketing efforts. The basic premise of marketing today has become the interaction with the customer; the more humanistic, the better. Learn by Doing technique simply breaks the marketing process down into a series of validating loops with the customer.

If there is only one thing that you take away from the Lean Startup movement, it is the message that is sent about getting out of the office and validating whatever you are working on with the customer. It is a similar principle that is reinforced in Service Design and Design Thinking processes.

Going back to the The Lean Startup, an important lesson you can learn from this concept is not even in the book. Author Eric Ries sold the Lean Startup through Meetups, Lean Startup Sessions around the globe and later his own conferences. Secondly, he leveraged everything with the brilliant use of social media. However it was all high touch, low technology from a person that grew up in the software community. Even the Build, Measure and Learn adaption of PDCA is highly structured around gaining customer acceptance and validation; again, high touch.

No matter, what brilliant marketing efforts you may create or how automated your marketing funnel may become, it will fail against authentic and human touch. I think this customer interaction is the most important marketing tool you can have. I will term this customer interaction: the iCustomer.

In Lean Sales and Marketing the “Learn by Doing” concept is the iCustomer. It is not about sending another email, it is about the iCustomer. It is not another Voice Shout or tweet or even blog post, it is the iCustomer. If you want to know how effective your marketing efforts are? Measure how many iCustomers it creates. You have only one customer, the person that buys and uses your product. This is the person you must learn from. “Learn by Doing” must be done at the iCustomer.

Marketing and medicine seem to be relying more and more on technology. This Ted video demonstrates some strikingly parallel concepts to marketing. See how modern medicine is in danger of losing a powerful, old-fashioned tool: human touch. Physician and writer Abraham Verghese describes our strange new world where patients are merely data points, and calls for a return to the traditional one-on-one physical exam.

Related Information:
When Efficiencies and Innovation no longer work, is Customer Centricity the answer?
Service Innovation – Rethinking Customer Needs
Why the Lean SALES PDCA Cycle was Created!
Lean needs Marketing, more than Marketing needs Lean!

Audio Collection of Dr. Balle on Kaizen 0

The Friday Video Series with Dr. Michael Balle, the Gemba Coach at the Lean Enterprise Institute recently competed a two month long series on Kaizen. I have included the entire audio of the conversation as a podcast. Even if you have watched the videos I think you will find it worthwhile.

Download Podcast: Click and choose options: Dr. Balle on Kaizen or go to the Business901 iTunes Store

Dr. Balle is a multiple Shingo Prize winner as an author of the The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager. His newest Shingo Prize was on the adaption of The Gold Mine: A Novel of Lean Turnaround to an audiobook that features performances by multiple readers who bring its realistic business story and characters to life.

Dr. Michael Balle is the Gemba Coach at the Lean Enterprise Institute

Related Information:
SALES PDCA Framework for Lean Sales and Marketing
Continuous Improvement, The Toyota Way
Marketing with PDCA eBook released on Business901 Website
Lean is not a revolution, Lean is solve one thing and prove one thing!

Individual Kaizen and handling blame! 0

Individual Kaizen is very powerful when you can let go of assigning blame. This is part of the Business901 video Series with Dr. Michael Balle, the Gemba Coach at the Lean Enterprise Institute. This series of videos continues with a central theme of Kaizen.

Dr. Balle is a multiple Shingo Prize winner as an author of the The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager. His newest Shingo Prize was on the adaption of The Gold Mine: A Novel of Lean Turnaround to an audiobook that features performances by multiple readers who bring its realistic business story and characters to life.

Dr. Michael Balle is the Gemba Coach at the Lean Enterprise Institute

Past Videos with Dr. Balle on the Biz901 You Tube Channel

Related Information:
Sustaining your Kaizen Event Ebook
Holding Successful Kaizen Events Part 3 0f 3
Agile Marketing – Maybe?
Start your Marketing with a User Story
A Hidden Asset of a Kaizen Event

Are Kaizen Events against the principles of Kaizen? 0

Part of the Business901 video Series with Dr. Michael Balle, the Gemba Coach at the Lean Enterprise Institute, this particular video centers on why would you use Kaizen Events? Is a Kaizen Event against the principles of Kaizen? This series of videos has a central theme of Kaizen.

Dr. Balle is a multiple Shingo Prize winner as an author of the The Gold Mine and The Lean Manager. His newest Shingo Prize was on the adaption of The Gold Mine: A Novel of Lean Turnaround to an audiobook that features performances by multiple readers who bring its realistic business story and characters to life.

Dr. Michael Balle is the Gemba Coach at the Lean Enterprise Institute

Past Videos with Dr. Balle on the Biz901 You Tube Channel

Related Information:
Sustaining your Kaizen Event Ebook
Holding Successful Kaizen Events Part 3 0f 3
Agile Marketing – Maybe?
Start your Marketing with a User Story
A Hidden Asset of a Kaizen Event