Senior coach at LEI Josh Howell recently joined Ron Pereira for a Gemba Academy podcast on coaching, lean thinking for retail and service organizations, and what respect for people really means. Listen to the full conversation here or read excerpts below.
“I’m always interested in coaching practice in various fields. And John Wooden once said, “It’s the little details that are vital. It’s the little things that make the big things happen,”… I try to keep that in mind. Start with what is the work to be done, how do to improve that work in really a detailed way… on the frontlines with those who are trying to create value. I just find time and time again if you try to dig into that detail, that detail really does do big things, deliver big results.”
On why the retail sector is interested in lean:
“Retail businesses are interested in how to create more value and do that at the same time as they require less cost… [Retail businesses] are often also just big companies. A lot of people to either be engaged in helping to create success for the business or not of course. On the value side, the retail sector is facing competition from Amazon on the one hand and the craft movement [on the other]… I suppose with lean thinking, there’s not a better way to [address] all of these things."
On the lean concept of “respect for people”:
"In my own practice, it begins with starting from “what is the work that that frontline value creator is doing.” I think that’s what really matters to them. There’s a lot of things that we as employers might do to try to engage and support them… but what day in and day out… what they’re doing is work... So as soon as we can engage with them around THAT, the work to be done, and support them in simplifying it and removing obstacles, the better off we’ll be. It’s my belief that in doing that we demonstrate respect for people."
On his own personal productivity habit:
"I think when I’m at my best, when I’m most productive, in advance of any activity (coaching visit or anything else) – I take the time to write down a plan. A general plan that shows what I’m going to do, what I’m going to accomplish... And then post that activity and exhibit the discipline to reflect on that plan. What actually happened, what was different than what I planned, why did that happen, what were the results, what are the next steps… For me to take the time to write that down and make that visible to my coach, my manager, that certainly helps me get better."