Strategy Deployment: Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey

I remember, years ago, watching my oldest child struggle in his attempt to loosen a bolt. This was one of those all too few, brief, and shining child-rearing moments where I could easily and quickly share some trusty words of wisdom.

“Righty tighty, lefty loosey.”

I’m pretty sure that my son’s response was somewhere in the vicinity of, “Huh?” Not the effect that I was looking for necessarily.

…Nevertheless, I’m going to try to apply the same advice, but to a different subject (totally without threaded parts).

Strategy deployment (a.k.a. policy deployment, hoshin kanri, etc.).

Huh?

Well, specifically, I’m talking about strategy deployment x-matrices and the direction in which they should be developed…which is clockwise.

Righty tighty is good. Lefty loosey, or counterclockwise, and the whole thing unwinds. Not good.

wrench

 

We must remember that matrices are tools. They are a way to capture and communicate thinking, facilitate discussion and improvement (through practices like catchball) and, in the event of strategy deployment, aid in vertical and horizontal alignment within the organization.

The standard, neck-craning, x-matrix clocks the reader typically through the following generic elements for an organization (think corporation, business group, business unit, plant, etc.), while cascading through the appropriate organizational levels:

  • 3 to 5 year breakthrough objectives, to
  • the relevant annual objectives, to
  • the relevant annual improvement priorities or strategic initiatives, to
  • the targets and means or deliverables,
  • while identifying who is responsible for the deliverables (and ultimately getting the point of impact where a person actually is required to execute)

This sequence is clockwise on the x-matrix. Clearly, it can be read clockwise or counterclockwise. But, it should only be BUILT clockwise.

Righty tighty!

Why is that?

Well, as Taiichi Ohno is credited with saying, “Start from need.”

We don’t start with targets and means (which are fancy words for countermeasures). We start with the organization’s relatively long term breakthrough objectives, which oh, by the way are guided by the business’ true north, competitive market realities, and the like.

This is where the thinking starts and is preferably rigorous and guided by things like hoshin A3’s and proposal A3’s (and, where appropriate, problem A3’s). All require, at some level, the users to grasp the situation and articulate the rationale.

Implicit in this is an understanding of the causal relationships. It does not facilitate “loosey” counterclockwise leaps to justify pet countermeasures by thinking up annual improvement priorities and breakthrough objectives.

So, just like we don’t build an A3 right to left, we must only build our x-matrices right tighty…and with the requisite thinking.

Related posts: Strategy – First Formulate, THEN DeployWhy Bowling Charts? Trajectory Matters!

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Newsflash: Behavioral Benefits of 5S Are Clinically “Proven”

Larry Loucka, a close friend and colleague, recently pointed me to a February 16th Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article.

Now, before you roll your eyes and give me the WSJ-isn’t known-for-getting-the-lean-thing-right look, hear me out. What the Journal published is really, really good stuff…even if lean, and 5S in particular, was the furthest thing from their brilliant mind(s).

The title of the WSJ article is “Messes and Wrong Guesses.” Much of the content is ostensibly gleaned from a work written by Boyoun (Grace) Chae and Rui (Juliet) Zhue, entitled, “Environmental Disorder Leads to Self-Regulatory Failure.” It was published in the December 16, 2013, on-line Journal of Consumer Research.

I’m guessing most Gemba Tales readers aren’t very familiar with that journal.

But, I digress! Here’s the pertinent stuff.

Chae and Zhue conducted several revealing experiments with two different populations of volunteers. One group of participants was placed in a messy and chaotic environment. The other group was placed in a more organized environment.

Both groups were subjected to several tests. The results reflected that the folks in the messy environment, in comparison to those in the more organized environment:

1) were willing to spend more for a variety of products (including a high end TV, vacation package, and pen),

2) took longer to complete a tricky, brain teaser type test

3) demonstrated less stamina when attempting to solve a difficult (actually unsolvable) puzzle.

Now, I don’t know what the sample size was, but the WSJ article stated that, “[i]n each case, volunteers in the organized environment did better…”

The researchers, Chae and Zhue, “say the results show that disorganized surroundings threaten people’s sense of personal control, which in turn taxes their self-regulatory abilities.”

So, next time someone challenges you on why 5S is a good thing, look them in the eye and tell them it’s (sort of) proven that it lowers stress and enhances the self-regulatory abilities of everyone in the workforce. That sounds like respect for the individual AND a greater capacity for execution and daily kaizen.

 

Related posts: What Happened to 5S’ Fourth S? Let’s Standardize! [Guest Post], Ineffective Visual Controls – 9 Root Causes

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Holiday Lean Math

As some of you may recall, I launched a new blog called Lean Math back in February with a couple of my buddies. In my humble opinion, I think that the ever-growing content is pretty useful stuff for lean practitioners.

In any event, I just wanted to share some basic holiday lean math…

 

PEACE ON EARTH + GOODWILL = HAPPY HOLIDAYS

 

I am painfully aware that while the equation is simple, the successful and sustained (mathematical) execution has been eluding humans for a long, long, long time.

Here’s to the sincere hope that you and yours may have a happy and blessed holiday season.

 

Related post: New Blog Launch – Lean Math!

Build the Lean Management System and the Behaviors Will Come. Not Exactly.

OK, I know that what I’m about to say may sound cynical, but 20 years of personal, hard knock lean experience tells me that this is reality. And most folks I think would, or at least should (I hope), agree with me.

The majority of companies pursuing a lean implementation do so superficially. (Did I just hear you yawn?!)

Many fail to understand the transformational lean principles, much less have the will to rigorously live them. Lean wannabes are attracted by and then reproduce the easily reproducible “shiny objects” and “eye candy.” The objects and candy are the tools and trinkets that are seen in books, seminars, and drive-by benchmark visits (a.k.a. industrial tourism).

Lean management systems are chock full of shiny objects – huddle (a.k.a. tier or reflection meeting or metric) boards, leader standardized work, visual process adherence tools, suggestion boards, task accountability boards, etc. But these things are just things.

An advertisement that I spied on the backside of a Philadelphia area bus is pretty darn profound…and relevant,

Until you know what it really means, it doesn’t mean much.

In other words, just having trinkets doesn’t make a lean management system. In fact, a trinket-only system is pure muda.

So, what ANIMATES a lean management system? What is its soul?

Lean leadership behaviors.

Now, I prescribe to the notion that an organization can act its way into a new way of being, as reflected in the figure below.

principles in action

BUT, lean principles in action are initiated, taught, coached, and reinforced by lean leaders largely through their behaviors within the context of the lean management system.

What the heck does that mean? Behaviorally speaking:

  • Instilling discipline. Human systems don’t naturally gravitate to discipline and rigor. Effective leaders readily model, promote, and enforce discipline first and foremost by doing their own leader standardized work.
  • Prompting critical thinking. Critical thinking and lean thinking go hand-in-hand. Most folks, at least initially, are deficient in both. Leaders develop the critical thinking skills of team members by consistently prompting reflection by asking open ended questions and resisting the almost irresistible urge to tell and fix. And, lean thinking is infused, explicitly and implicitly in everything.
  • Facilitating daily kaizen. Daily kaizen doesn’t just happen spontaneously. Most companies have, accidentally and/or purposefully, smothered the kaizen spirit and failed to develop the necessary technical capabilities. Lean leaders constantly coach folks to aggressively identify and acknowledge opportunities (and prioritize them when appropriate), identify root causes, formulate and execute countermeasures, and then follow-through. This is a powerful mix of know-how and behavior that leverages critical thinking, challenge, creativity, and the freedom to fail.
  • Coaching personal kaizen. Here lean leaders coach folks to apply critical thinking for their own personal development. Coach guided self-reflection yields the identification of personal behavioral and performance gaps and ultimately, the formulation of coachee-owned personal countermeasures with a follow-up plan that the coach can check on. Over time, the coachee should eventually be able to use the same methods to coach others.

This stuff just doesn’t magically appear when the huddle boards are populated and hung-up and the first huddle is conducted or when the leaders conduct their standardized work audits, etc. Indeed, that’s just wishful thinking.

Only proper lean leadership behaviors and technical know-how can animate the accoutrements of the lean management system. And, that can only happen if at least a nucleus of the leaders possess those things to begin with…or who have ready access to one who can coach them.

Related posts: Lean Management System: Accountability’s Four Questions and Two Tools, 6 Leadership Habits for Effective Tiered Meetings, Why Do You Ask?

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Respect the Process

We’ve all undoubtedly had the notion of respect for people drilled into our heads. Of course, it’s easy to speak about such a principle. Much  harder to live it.

In any event, let me humbly add another recipient of our deserved respect.

Process.

First, a distinction, it’s not THE Process, meaning we are not talking about one single, special process that is elevated above all others. We’re talking about ANY process within our value streams.

OK, you may be thinking, why would we respect a non-person or non-entity? And how would we render such respect?

Why?respect process 2

  • Every process, standardized or not, should be respected at least to the extent that we must grasp what it is (admittedly difficult if it is not standardized) and the reason for its very existence. How many times have folks eliminated or changed a process without understanding what problem it was trying to solve in the first place, only to find that their rash “improvement” was counterproductive?
  • Basic respect is extended to people because of their inherent human dignity. A standardized process has a certain inherent value in that it provides, if nothing else, a starting point for improvement. Think back to your last time you (improved and) standardized a previously non-standardized process. Hard work, but it established a critical foundation for the next kaizen activity. As Taiichi Ohno (and Henry Ford, previously) is credited with saying, more or less, there is no kaizen without standard work. Implicit with this concept is that the proper use of standardized processes readily reveals abnormalities, which is the feedstock for problem solving.
  • Standardized processes, until improved yet again, represent the best way for the organization to do things easier, better, faster, and cheaper. Why wouldn’t we respect that?
  • A standardized process represents, if established properly, the genuine PDCA and SDCA (standardize-do-check-act) efforts of a number of folks. We need to respect their hard work, courage, and creativity.
  • And then there’s the slippery slope of inconsistency. If we pick and choose which processes receive respect and which are casually disregarded, the discipline and scientific thought that is so necessary for effective lean transformations goes up in smoke.

How?

  • PDCA. It’s difficult to respect what you do not understand. Good old fashioned PDCA requires the lean practitioner to grasp the situation. The plan portion of PDCA calls us to understand and compare what is happening versus what should be happening and what we know versus what we don’t know. In other words, we should not willfully further process ignorance.
  • SDCA. SDCA is about ensuring, via audit, that standardized work is being adhered to and is sufficient. This assumes an organization-wide discipline to follow the standardized work and a leadership obligation to reinforce adherence and, in the event of lack of adherence, determine the reason why and the help develop and deploy an appropriate countermeasure. Sometimes lack of adherence is driven by one or more of the following: the process is insufficient, a better way has been adopted (and should be reflected in updated standardized work), insufficient training, willful disobedience, etc.
  • Patience. Standardized work needs to be lived with for some measure of time before changes should be experimented with and/or instituted. I’ve witnessed folks “trying” standardized work that was SDCA’d in an identical process from another location immediately dismiss it as insufficient (compared to their organic, non-standardized work) and then desiring to change it or just plain ignore it. Here, we suggest reasoned “tasting before seasoning.”
  • TWI. If we truly respect the process AND the person, we will effectively instruct the worker so that he understands the how and why of the process and we will verify that he can consistently execute the process. TWI’s job instruction program, for example, provides a time-proven approach for doing just that.
  • Andon. Workers must be empowered and expected to pull the andon when they cannot maintain the process and/or the process is deemed insufficient. In turn, workers must expect lean leaders to respond to the andon pull, escalate when necessary, and ultimately facilitate problem solving.

In short, respect the process and it will respect you.

Related posts: Standard Work Is Like Food – Taste before Seasoning, Leader Standard Work Should Be…Work!

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Invitation to LEI’s Managing Kaizen Events Workshop

Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) will be hosting its first Fall 2013 session. The session, comprised of 13 workshops, will be held in Minneapolis from September 17th through 20th and will focus, “on such fundamental concepts as standardized work, leader standard work, kaizen (both daily improvement and team-based rapid improvement events), visual management and value-stream mapping in the context of organizational change and learning.”

I’ll be instructing the new Managing Kaizen Events workshop September 19-20. If you would like a description of this interactive workshop, please view the video below. Click here for more information (great idea if you don’t want to see and hear me drone on) and to register.

I hope to see you in Minneapolis!

Balancing Two Types of Visual Controls within the Context of Lean Management

Some folks may wonder what the heck I mean by “two types.” Within the context of a lean management system, we can make the following distinction:

  1. Visual process performance (VPP). These are typically metric based visuals that provide users with meaningful insight into the health of the process or value stream. For example, we can easily relate to graphs that are displayed on tiered team meeting boards. These graphs, often categorized in people, quality, delivery, and cost-type buckets, trend and compare performance to targets. They help team members and leaders quickly identify and acknowledge performance gaps, which should naturally lead to root cause identification and implementation of effective countermeasures. But, VPP visuals are not limited to simply metrics. A classic example is a plan versus actual chart (a.k.a. production analysis board). It captures typically hour (or pitch), by hour (or pitch) planned production and compares it against actual performance for a given line or cell. The visual, as all good visuals, should be worker managed, and will reflect the reason for any substantive misses.
  2. Visual process adherence (VPA). Leader standard work requires leaders to assess both adherence to and the sufficiency of standard work. This is largely about PDCA’s sister, SDCA (standardize-do-check-adjust), and provides necessary insight into process and value stream health. So, what kind of visual controls are we talking about here? The examples are pretty far and wide – standard work sheets, standard work combination sheets, FIFO lanes (and the related max levels), shadow boards, supermarkets (and the related kanban cards, their flow, and the periodic supermarket re-sizing process), heijunka box (including, how it’s loaded and relieved), etc., etc.

Assuming that the notion of VPP and VPA is less than radical, why my concern about balance?

Because, frankly, I see so many folks who care somewhat (plus or minus) about VPP, but not a lick about VPA.

That’s illogical!

Effective lean leaders care deeply about what the process or value stream is producing from an output perspective (at least better, faster, and cheaper) AND how the process or value stream achieves (or doesn’t achieve) those results from a process perspective. In other words, lean practitioners want both…

…because they really, really NEED both.

Besides, how does one identify performance gaps and then not fix process!?!

We’ve probably all seen the following characterization, but it’s worth revisiting.

  • Good results, bad process means we probably just got lucky and the likelihood of repeating the good results is remote.
  • Bad results, bad process should be expected.
  • Good results, good process should be expected and all the more reason to ensure adherence to the good process(es).
  • Bad results, good process should be impossible…if the process was indeed good…and was followed rigorously. Further investigation is warranted in such a situation.

So, why would folks not seek the proper level of visual balance within their organization?

There are a few possible reasons why an organization is “performance heavy:”

  1. Developing good VPA visuals is hard work. For example, developing standard work sheets and standard work combination sheets for a number of different processes can be daunting.
  2. Checking on process adherence and sufficiency is hard work. Let’s face it, this is really auditing the system. This requires multiple levels of leadership to perform their leader standard work audits at regular intervals at the gemba and identify abnormalities (think 5 why’s) and sometimes have hard conversations with folks who don’t really like to adhere to standards, ever.
  3. The culture values outputs, not process. This is the realm of non-lean thinking hero cultures. You know, the “we don’t need no stinkin’ standard work, we have a bunch of super smart folks who will work a ton of overtime and pull a victory from the jaws of defeat…every month, or every project, forever.” Heck, why fix problems and keep them fixed with good standard work, when you can wrestle with the same ones, over and over again?

If the reasons are #1 and/or #2, it’s time to get busy. But, do it smartly via a pilot. Go narrow and deep. Learn and then expand. The results of VPP and VPA balance are within your reach.

If the reason is #3, there’s probably a need for some fundamental leadership education and alignment first.

Related posts: Leader Standard Work Should Be…Work!, Plan Vs. Actual – The Swiss Army Knife of Charts, Lean Management Systems and Mysterious Performance Metrics

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What Happened to 5S’ Fourth S? Let’s Standardize! [Guest Post]

I’m admittedly a bit of a 5S curmudgeon. I blame it mostly on the fact that I have routinely witnessed well-applied 1S, 2S, and 3S, evaporate in the absence of any meaningful 4S. It’s like so much in lean, when we fail to understand that any technical change requires a management change, bad things happen.

In other words, the first 3S’s matter little if we don’t do some of the things that 4S requires – assigning 3S responsibilities, integrating 3S duties in regular work duties, and checking on 3S maintenance levels (not to mention preventing things from getting dirty in the first place). Here, our guest-blogger, Tony Ferraro, talks about another critical part of the fourth S – standardizing the lines, labels, shadows, presentation, etc. that was developed beforehand.

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5S is one of the most effective tools within the realm of workplace organization. Since its inception, 5S has gained a loyal following in many different types of work environments. Companies that have truly embraced 5S enjoy high levels of organization and efficiency.

For those of you unfamiliar with 5S, it is an acronym used to describe five different, yet integrated practices that all begin with the letter S. They are as follows:  sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. It seems that most businesses engaged in the practice of 5S do a rather nice job implementing at least the first three S’s. However, the fourth S, standardize, consistently seems to lag in the background.

Why is this?

Is it that standardize is hard to implement? Misunderstood? Undervalued?

An Example – Standardize in an Auto Shop

Here’s a quick story about standardization, also known as standardized cleanup. The setting for this story is an auto shop.

Now, auto shops have a well-earned reputation for disorganization and uncleanliness. Originally, this one was no different.

The primary purpose of standardization is to ensure that work stations and equipment are set up in a similar manner, kept clean, and maintained in line with 3S responsibilities – including regular work duties and maintenance. For more information, please refer to Hirano’s book entitled “5 Pillars of the Visual Workplace.” One important goal is for associates to be able to walk up to any work station and locate any needed tool or item quickly and easily since all stations are consistently organized.

Our auto shop had made some great progress and had a good handle on the first three of the 5S’s but struggled with the fourth S. However, due to the individualized organization of tools and equipment, employees were unable to use different work stations to and perform the same high level of work efficiency.

In a nutshell, everyone had their station set-up differently according to their specific likes and dislikes. When other employees needed to use a different station, they would spend unnecessary time reorganizing the space and equipment to meet their needs. Some common problems included misplaced tools, disorganized workspaces, and overall losses in production time. The sad truth was that a lack of standardization was eroding the success achieved with the first three S’s.

Consistent with the notion of 5S, we employed a visual approach towards standardization. We gathered the employees and set-up the ideal, universal workstation by taking each employee’s opinions and thoughts into consideration. A photo of the pilot workstation was then posted at all of the other workstations.

Employees took ownership of the workstations by setting them up in the specific and uniform manner according to the agreed set-up and photo illustration. Foam tool organizers were extremely useful in the effort. The organizer helped to keep all tools presented similarly at each work station and then also made each employee accountable at the end of his or her shift to have all tools back in their predetermined locations. Just like the saying goes, every place has its tools and every tool has its place.

Don’t Overlook the Benefits of Standardization

Even though standardization may seem trivial, don’t underestimate how it can help create and help maintain an effective and efficient work space. Standardizing workspaces can help engage employees and create a universally organized and well understood workplace for all stakeholders. Please familiarize yourself with the fourth S and re-energize your 5S culture.


Antonio Ferraro, on behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR (www.creativesafetysupply.com), authored this guest post. Tony strives to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments through 5S, six sigma, kaizen, and applying a lean mindset.

Related posts: Ineffective Visual Controls – 9 Root Causes, Scrunchie Lean, Visual Controls, Spider-Man, and Do Hotel Chains Really Care About Saving the Planet?

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Embrace Ugly

As best as I can recall, I’ve never coined a phrase with any staying power.

Until now.

And, my phrase has been purposely captured on a T-shirt, by someone other than a close relative. It’s not quite like having my words recorded indelibly in marble and situated in the Parthenon, but I’ll take it.

Enough gloating, what’s the phrase and what is its etymology?

“Embrace ugly.”

It’s a term that I have used frequently with a particular client. Frequently – as in multiple times per day, even multiple times per hour. I repeated the phrase, not only because of its self-entertainment value (yes, I do that), but more importantly to break the client’s paradigm.

You see, they were (note the past tense) chronic and debilitating perfectionists.

Now, striving for perfection is part and parcel of Lean Thinking (by way of Womack and Jones). The Lean Enterprise Institute lists the fifth step, “As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.”

However, the intent is to aggressively pursue continuous improvement – by frequently and rigorously spinning the PDCA (plan-do-check-act) wheel.

Perfectionists however have a very difficult time getting around the wheel and, in essence, missing the benefits of failing faster. Perfectionists tend to have their own version of the wheel, something like PPPPPDDDDD, or Plaaaaaaannnnnn, then Dooooooooooo. “C” and “A” are, often accidentally and ironically excluded from the perfectionists wheel.

Why?

Because after investing so much time planning and then investing in the perfect “Do,” (impossible, by the way) there is little time or money or will left to make meaningful adjustments. The victims (a.k.a. stakeholders) are often doomed to a life with less than optimal fixtures, equipment, facilities, etc.

How many times have you seen expensive underutilized stainless steel equipment, nicely laminated work surfaces that workers do not like, pricey, oversized extruded aluminum workstations, and flashy, but useless tooling? Stuff that unfortunately was not designed or developed with important things in mind like takt time, footprint, PM’s, flows (of people, materials, supplies, information, tooling, etc.), visual control and line of sight (i.e., can you see over and around it easily?), ergonomics, scrap, etc.

While lean folks apply 3P (production preparation process) concepts like 7 different ways and seek to down-select to the top three or so and then trystorm their way into the best using sub-scale and full scale models made of cardboard, plywood, and PVC, perfectionists are machining or building the perfect design in expensive materials.

In short, lean folks embrace ugly. They revel in trystorming, in learning, in rapid PDCA. Ugly is synonymous with the quick and the dirty.

Which is exactly why I kept repeating, “embrace ugly,” until my friends were repeating the same and then finally breaking away from the suffocating, expensive, lethargic legacy of perfectionism.

…and now, they’re wearing the words on their shirts.

A couple of quotes:

“Quick and dirty is better than slow and fancy.” – Taiichi Ohno

“A good plan implemented today is better than a perfect plan implemented at some unspecified

time in the future.” – General George S. Patton

Related posts: Kaizen Principle: Be Like MacGyver, Use Creativity Before Capital!, Lean Space – Some Thoughts and 10 Questions

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Lean Management System: Accountability’s Four Questions and Two Tools

Lean oriented questions tend to be straightforward, but not necessarily easy.

The same goes for the four basic questions around the daily accountability process – the process by which leaders facilitate effective follow-through. The follow-through that I am referring to is about the countermeasures necessary for what some refer to as (team-based):

  • Maintenance kaizen. Kaizen to bring a process back to standard, and
  • Improvement kaizen (redundantly named). Kaizen to elevate performance from a given standard.

To that kaizen-duo, we can add perhaps more mundane, but still important, countermeasures, and plain old action items, that help to appropriately drive awareness, communication, adherence, purchase a new right-sized cart, etc.

The four questions:

  1. What? Here the lean leader must capture a specific countermeasure (the what) that will address a particular problem’s root cause. To this question many folks very appropriately add a short problem statement (to which the countermeasure is being applied). This facilitates and demonstrates good problem-solving rigor and thinking. The “problem to be solved,” in the context of a lean management system, is typically identified during the application of the lean management system’s leader standard work (and the related audit of adherence to and sufficiency of the standard work), team-based tiered meetings and reflection, and andon response. If you say this sounds a bit too neat and tidy, you would be correct. It is darn difficult to accurately nail down a tight problem statement, identify root cause, and come up with an effective countermeasure in the span of a 10 minute daily tiered meeting (during which much of the time is allocated to other things). In fact, unless some quick 5 why activity can get the team there, the hard work of problem-solving is typically done off-line. This means that the captured “countermeasure,” more like an action item, may be for an individual or team to apply the necessary problem-solving rigor. In other words, sometimes it’s a plan for a plan. Know that the countermeasure or action item is not the sole brain-child of the lean leader, it’s usually developed with/by the team, as facilitated by the lean leader.
  2. Who? A countermeasure, no surprise, needs someone to execute it. Often it’s more than one person, but accountability is best served when there is one “belly-button.” The lean leader can record more than one who, but there must be a primary who!
  3. When? What good is a countermeasure or action item without a date certain? Clearly, not much. Many folks, unfortunately, are more than happy with an ambiguous due date. It’s an infinitely open loop.
  4. Status? Without a formal check to verify that assigned and agreed upon countermeasure have been completed, there is ZERO accountability and ZERO follow-through. Simply checking on completion is basic stuff. It is often appropriate to periodically check countermeasure status between assignment and completion, assessing execution status across the PDCA spectrum.

Admittedly, these are not the sexiest of questions. But, they are the bread and butter of the accountability process…along with the requisite lean leadership behaviors.

Once these questions are infused in the minds of lean leaders and team members, along with solid problem-solving skills, things get exciting. Folks get better at identifying problems, converging on problem-solving, and holding themselves and each other accountable.

And now the tools…

There are two basic tools to help in the accountability process. They are used primarily within the context of regular, typically daily, tiered team reflection meetings and help integrate the four questions within the “conversation.”

Each tool and its derivatives has pros and cons. None are perfect, but each are powerful.

  1. Countermeasure tracker form. This simple form records at least the following: 1) countermeasure number (nothing fancy – 1,2, 3, etc.) 2) the countermeasure (what), 3) who, 4) when, and 5) status. Some folks add a column in which to record the “problem to be solved.” The form is often hung on a tiered meeting metric board and are an active tool during the meeting as new countermeasures are recorded by the leader and old countermeasures are “statused” as part of the standard tiered meeting agenda. There are two basic ways the countermeasure tracker is used on a tier board: 1) one form for the entire board, or 2) one form for each of the metric categories (i.e., People, Quality, Delivery, Cost).
  2. Task accountability board. This board (sometimes paper) captures each assigned countermeasures/task on a single Post-It® note or card. The note/card, which also reflects the countermeasure due date, is then placed on the board in the row designated for the assigned tiered meeting member, intersecting the column which reflects the appropriate due date. See below for an example.

click to enlarge

Related posts: Tiered Meeting = Team Stand-up A3, Another Classic Lean Question – “Do You See What I See?”, 6 Leadership Habits for Effective Tiered Meetings, “So What?” – A Powerful Lean Question

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