Joe: If that prioritization is changing all the time, it seems more like an iteration, and it’s hard to get an iteration within Kanban because Kanban seems to be a linear process. Can you elaborate on that thinking for me and how that works together?
Mattias: Even inside an iteration there are definitely linear steps; there are steps that you take to make sure the iteration is complete. This is just the same if you would think of Scrum or Development as if you use Kanban; there typically are the steps that guarantee you get a high-quality output. I’d like to say that there are more ways to deal with uncertainty; iteration is not the only way. If you have a very uncertain situation, for example, you might not know what solution that will work or what type of marketing message that the customer will buy into. Another way to approach it is to do set base design, so you run a multiple set of experiments in parallel. Then you evaluate really quickly which one of these works and you continue on with the ones that actually did work. This set base design is an underused mechanism in our organizations whereas we are getting pretty familiar with using iterations, but set base design can be as quick, or even more effective if deployed correctly.
Joe: It’s like taking a PDCA cycle and doing Plan-Do-Check-Act but when we look at Plan, Do, Check, Act that’s basically a linear progression but when we step back at it, it’s an iteration.
Mattias: Correct, I mean now you could see iteration as a way to evaluate 10 parallel experiments and then say okay, so we did 10 experiments, which one of these worked. So each experiment would be a PDCA per se but you would have a PDCA on all the 10 experiments. Running them in parallel actually buys you time because if you didn’t run them in parallel, you would have to run one after the other, and the question becomes which way is the fastest way to discover, or roll through this uncertainty.
Marketing with PDCA (More Info): Targeting what your Customer Values at each stage of the cycle will increase your ability to deliver quicker, more accurately and with better value than your competitor. It is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitates the journey to Customer Value.
An orchestra tuning is a self-organizing system; in other words, it is a complex created by incalculable numbers of occurrences that arc self-gene rated and self-arranged. There is no plan to the multitude of event! that occur, but they form predictable and consistent sound patterns.
What can we say about this organization? In many ways, a tuning orchestra fulfills many of the important criteria often described as essential to organizational success:
It has a common purpose (to tune each instrument to a common pitch).
Each individual takes personal responsibility for fulfilling that purpose.
Each member is a highly trained professional, fully capable of performing any task required.
However, this organization—the orchestra—is predictably limited in its ability to produce music within the self-organizing system that tuning produces. When we listen to an orchestra tuning up. we can recognize it for what it is. We do not confuse the tuning with the music about to be performed. If the evening consisted of hours of musicians tuning, we would are want our money back.
But after a short lime, the musicians become quiet. The conductor comes to the podium. The baton is raised, and with the first down-beat the musicians produce music that is far more interesting, structurally and emotionally complex, dramatic, and moving than any sounds that came I from the orchestra when they were tuning.
We have witnessed a transformation from unharnessed potential that reached a status quo to focused potential fulfilling its promise. What made the difference? Not talent, dedication, skill, professionalism, resources, energy, and attention to detail, for there was no change in these characteristics.
In business, we often hear the call for more of these very qualities. “Our organization needs more dedication, attention to detail, a higher skill level, more professionalism, more resources, more energy.” These certainly are useful and important qualities to have in an organization. But, as we can see from our orchestral example, by themselves, these factors are not enough. The composer and the conductor provide vision, leadership and a profound understanding of structure that enables the resources of the orchestra to be put to good use.
The musical score is the most dominant factor. An orchestra with a conductor but without a score would hardly be more productive than the tuning-up exercise. In fact, an orchestra can play a score without a conductor, although usually not as well. So the composer’s role is supreme. Rut the best score, unperformed, does not reach its height of fulfillment either. The composer, the conductor, and each musician performs a unique function within the music-making process. The separation of function allows each individual to serve the performance of the music. At its best, the orchestra is one of the finest examples of organizational control—the ability of a group of people to join together and accomplish their collective purpose through their shared efforts. Control is multiplied throughout the organization by combining clarity of a unifying principle (score) with competence of personnel (musicians) and leadership skills (conductor).
An organization can be as highly professional as the world’s best orchestras once it becomes well-structured, with a thematic unifying principle that is consistently reinforced throughout its various activities, To learn the lesson of the orchestra, we must move away from self-organizing systems that produce limited status-quo results and into a highly composed system that is capable of superior performance.
In the podcast featuring Ari Weinzweig, CEO and co-founding partner of Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Zingerman’s Community of Businesses (ZCoB) has annual sales of over $40 million. ZingTrain, a consulting and training company shares Zingerman’s approach to business with like-minded organizations from around the world, and offers a variety of management training seminars in Ann Arbor, as well as customized workshops and presentations at client sites.
Joe: A big part of your organization has become Zing Training. What started that? Did you just wake up one day and say, “Gee, we need to bottle this up?”
Ari: ‘Well, we opened in ’82, and then in ’93, Paul and I spent about a year writing a new vision for the business. When we opened, we were very clear about our vision. And actually the first natural law of business, I think, is organizations that have a clear vision of greatness are going to have a better shot at succeeding. So when we opened in ’82, we were very clear in our minds and what we wrote down that we only wanted one deli. We didn’t want a chain or replicas. We knew that we wanted something that was unique to us and not a copy of something from New York, or Chicago, or LA.
We knew that we wanted really great food and service but in a very accessible setting, and that we wanted a really great place for people to work, and to be bonded into the community. By ’93, so 10, 11 years in, I mean, we kind of had done that. In that, we had filled in, expanded twice on the site that we’re on.
We’re in the historic district, so it’s not easy to do that. We kind of had, I guess in hindsight what would be the equivalent of an organizational “midlife struggle.”
I don’t think it was a crisis, because we weren’t crashing, but we weren’t really clear on where we were going. We had achieved what we had set out to do despite going against the odds. So we spent about a year coming up with our next vision, which we wrote out.
It was called Zingerman’s 2009, so it was for 15 years into the future. That vision outlined that we would have a community of businesses all here in the Ann Arbor area, because we like to be connected to what we’re doing.
Each building should be a Zingerman’s business, but each would have its own unique specialty. So that way, we could grow but keep the deli unique, and do other things. And we would only do a business when we had a managing partner or partners in it that would own part of that business and have a passion for whatever that business did, and be connected to it every day going for greatness.
And after we wrote that vision and rolled it out, then Maggie Bayless??who we had known at the restaurant?? she had been, I mentioned a waitress there. But she had gone back to school and gotten her MBA at Michigan, and wasn’t that thrilled with the corporate world, but loved training.
She read that vision. She came to us and said, “Well, what about doing a Zingerman’s training business?” That’s how it started, then we worked on it for a while and opened it up in 1994.”
Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite authors. One of his books, Death by Meeting: A Leadership Fable…About Solving the Most Painful Problem in Business (J-B Lencioni Series)advocates the structure of a daily check in. He says the keys to make it successful are don’t sit down, keep it administrative and don’t cancel when someone can’t be there. It is important to share the news. I highly recommend the book and the outline of the four different types of meetings he discusses: Daily, Weekly Tactical, Monthly Strategic, and Quarterly Review. Having frequent short meetings simply keeps everyone on track. Sharing daily activities and schedules allows you to not operate in a vacuum and the knowledge of a team is always more powerful than the knowledge of an individual.
Listen to a tip from Patrick about improving team communication:
Hoshin Kanri is a Lean Organization’s method to set mid to long term management plans. We prioritize our resources and activities by involving members through a method called catchball. Though it seems an easy process to understand most organizations design their systems based on the structure of the organization. It is a reason that Six Sigma may be better suited for the typical hierarchy structured command and control organization. It is also, why the catchball approach is very difficult for most organizations.
Catchball was explained before, but a few details that I felt worth mentioning. Managers in a hierarchy structured organization believe that not having a detail process will hinder getting their plans enacted. They also are hesitant sending their well-thought out idea and creating a free for all atmosphere around it. It often may be the fear of losing control. What they will find is that as you play catchball, the further you go down in the organization, the more tactical the feedback is. People want leaders to lead. In the same vein, most people want to do a good job. How to implement your idea, vision is often contained within the tacit knowledge of your organization. Catchball makes that knowledge explicit. Prioritizing activities and resources are best left to the parts of the organization that is closest to the job to be done.
An organization is structured into functional areas and each area is given a mission to efficiently reach the organization’s purposes. In Hoshin, we prioritize these activities to achieve company vision and targets. The Hoshin at each department level clarifies strategies and targets to reach these targets (macro and micro PDCA). This way problem identification at the place of work is needed to study these problems, develop improvement measures needed to reach targets. The team leader or manager takes on responsibilities to clarify the measures needed to achieve the Hoshin targets based on the workplace mission. Workplace mission is demonstrated in the question “For whom and what type of value added products and services should be provided?”
Another way of viewing this process is that you are incorporating multiple PDCAs into a grander PDCA. This ensures that checks and follow-ups are made during implementation of Hoshin so that the whole organization is moving in one direction with team members driving the initiative versus management. The entire organization is one large PDCA cycle with a defined target. Each division and other layers create specific targets with the appropriate activities to achieve these.
As a result leading indicators rather than lag accountability measures can be created. Leading indicators are not easy to create. Many times they are only known by the people doing the work. Another way to think about this is that leading indicators are at the level of individual or the team’s process, the activity that they do.
Bonus Material: Adam Zak, co-author of Simple Excellence: Organizing and Aligning the Management Team in a Lean Transformation details the role of senior management in achieving a successful transformation to organizational excellence. Maintaining a focus on the big picture, the book explains what value streams are and how to use them to structure your business to align everyone with the things that matter most. It boils constraint management down to its practical terms and lays out a sound approach to accounting that enables everyone to spend money where it adds value and to stop spending money where it doesn’t.
How many people on your work team know the organization’s most important goals? 58%
How many people on your team know how they’re doing on those goals? 35%
How many people know exactly what they are supposed to do to help achieve the organization’s most important goals? 54%
Does your team consistently plan together to achieve their most important goals? 47%
This is a video preview of Store 334, a video featured in FranklinCovey’s Leadership and Execution workshops. Grocery Store 334 had its share of troubles. When manager Jim Dixon got everyone clear on the store goal, he thought his work was done. But only when everyone was accountable for the goal and empowered to make decisions did things start to change.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution:
Discipline 1: Focus on the Wildly Important – Human beings are wired to do only one thing at a time with excellence. The more we narrow our focus, the greater the chance of achieving our goals with excellence. Discuss what must be done or nothing else will matter. Using a tool called the Importance Screen, learn how so identity and narrow all of the possible goals down to 2 or 3 critical things that must be done with excellence. Learn how to create a ” line of sight” from your goals to the company goals.
Discipline 2: Create a Compelling Scoreboard – People play differently when they’re keeping score. Work through a process of identifying specific measures for those goals that have been identified in Discipline 1. Understand the difference between “leading” and “lagging” indicators. Using a tool called the Measurement Builder, create a team “scoreboard” that informs and motivates everyone contributing to the achievement of the goal(s}.
Discipline 3: Translate Lofty Goals into Specific Actions – To achieve goals you’ve never achieved before, you need to start doing things you’ve never done before. Using an entrepreneurial model, challenge the group to identify new behaviors that will result in new (better) outcomes. Learn the methods for finding the best behaviors by identifying where they might already exist in your or other’s organizations, or by brainstorming and then creating the best behaviors that don’t currently exist anywhere. These new behaviors are then translated in to very specific activities on a weekly basis which, when completed, will help to achieve the larger team goals.
Discipline 4: Hold Each Other Accountable – All of the Time – Knowing others are counting on you raises your level of commitment. Understand where you and your team are on the “scale of commitment” regarding the goal, and what you can do to increase the level of commitment to the goal. Address the actual practice to be used (WIG Session) in keeping the team engaged and focused on the top goals. Focus on four critical elements of this process; 1. Meeting is about the WIG’s, 2. “Triage” Reporting. 3. Finding 3rd Alternatives, 4. Clearing the Path for each other.
I think a Kaizen Event offers leadership a unique opportunity to “walk the talk.” They can participate in open and frank conversation, promote empowerment and break down many organizational barriers. This may be the first step in developing an ongoing continuous improvement culture. Their expressed enthusiasm for recommendations and recognition of other participants will go a long way in implementing the course of actions. Even if they raise the negatives they have the opportunity to state the reasons in a non-leadership role that can be very much more effective. However, they must be willing to accept being challenged and must not start exercising a sole person power of approval. Leadership should enjoy a Kaizen event. It gives them the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and participate, solve problems and communicate with the people that actually carry out the implementation. In fact, I think it would benefit any manager if it would be required that they participate in a Kaizen Event at least once a year.
The Hidden asset of a Kaizen vent is its ability to develop Leadership. The story Copy This!: Lessons from a Hyperactive Dyslexic who Turned a Bright Idea Into One of America’s Best Companies, discusses Paul Orfalea difficulties, which gave him “learning opportunities.” He explained that it propelled him to think differently, and to develop an unorthodox, people-centered, big-picture business model that relied heavily on the intelligence and skill of his franchise managers. Orfalea’s exuberant and irreverent attitude — he freely admits to cheating in school and relying on others to get him through college and his positive acceptance of his dyslexia should inspire many others. He mentioned in his book that when he walked into a room, he knew he was not the smartest person in it! Wonder if most leaders do that when they walk into a Kaizen Event?
Depth – demonstrating mastery in a subject or a principal skill; having the discipline to chase dreams all the way to the finish line.
Breadth – possessing a vast array of experiences and interests having empathy for others; having the ability to explore insights from many different perspectives; and being able to effectively generate new ideas by collaborating with the entire team.
Communications – focusing on the receiver; receiving feedback to ascertain whether the message sent was truly understood. Realizing only the receiver can say, “I understand!”
Collaboration – bringing together the skills(depth, breadth, and communications), ideas, and personality styles of an entire team to achieve a shared vision. Fostering an attitude to say, “Yes, and…”, rather than “No, this is better.”
Collaboration is critical to the process of generating ideas and problems in any organization. When you review the principles of Kaizen and Agile, your ability to succeed really comes down to how good of a team you put together. Very few times in an initial read of a book, I started reading this for pleasure, have I ever stopped so soon in a book and reread an entire chapter.
The rest of the book proved to be just as valuable and I think the authors did a very nice job of displaying the brilliance and the imagination that is taking place at Pixlar. I encourage you to read the book before you put together your next team.
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:
Recognize that there is a problem – a gap between expectations and achievement – and be open to negative feedback.
Voluntarily take responsibility and feel deep regret.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.