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Make the Shift: From “Churn and Burn” to Learn

by Deborah McGee
January 30, 2015

Make the Shift: From “Churn and Burn” to Learn

by Deborah McGee
January 30, 2015 | Comments (3)

PDCA is a balanced, healthy progression toward improvement. Properly managed, rapid cycles of PDCA advance your practice toward your goal improving along the way.

But PDCA also has a tendency to feel relentless (when can’t you adjust, right?). A firm grasp on your current condition based on facts and direct observation, a clearly defined purpose, and thoughtful goals are what propel the practice of PDCA, building momentum over time. So it’s worth taking the time to develop these things (and this kind of thinking) well.

Those of you who haven’t harnessed the power of PDCA in your daily work yet, beware! There is another all too common practice taking place out there. Let’s call it Churn and Burn (PDCA’s alter ego?). You know what it looks like: inputs from all angles, in all ways, at all stages, with no standards. Over processing, ever increasing requirements, diminishing deadlines. And backlogs of course begin. But as you power through your tasks and pass on the work to the next step, doesn’t it imminently find its way (like a salmon swimming upstream!) BACK to your desk for (say it with me…) rework.

Two relentless cycles. From one (PDCA), we learn. From the other, we churn and burn.

If you’re not squarely in the PDCA camp, please accept this invitation to join! Begin anywhere, begin today, and humbly let the next task you master become one you learn from. Easier said than done? True. It’s simple, but not easy. Everyone finds their own way. If it helps, here’s an exercise I actually used to shift my thinking and practice into a PDCA cycle. Using a sheet of paper taped to my desk, I selected a few tasks from my daily work (…usually from my daily re-work) at various phases in our process, and began experiments. When someone surfaced re-work or a complaint, we documented. It was a great way to try, learn and reflect.

PLAN

Instead of doing it this way:__
I’ll try it this way:__

DO

Instead of doing it this way:__
I’ll try it this way:
__

CHECK

Instead of doing it this way:__
I’ll try it this way:__

ADJUST

Instead of doing it this way:__
I’ll try it this way:__

Or, think of it another way. Imagine someone you deeply respect and admire sitting in your chair. I mean really, say… Marie Curie (… just me?). What would you do differently about your work if Madame Curie was to sit in your chair tomorrow? Would you ask her to churn and burn? Or would you offer her an approach to her work that would simultaneously help her accomplish it and improve it? In lean terms, that’s what we call respect.

The key idea here? We don’t need permission from the CEO to work smarter. You don’t need to wait for him or her to formally inaugurate  a culture change when it comes to learning (but hey CEOs, it really does help when it comes from you). Improvement can start with you, today, right now. Choose to seek continuous improvement and regular, thoughtful reflection instead of survival.

Do something different. Learn something new every day, and adjust! In this way, we give ourselves a structure for creating better processes to accomplish and improve our work, right now. 

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Lean Enterprise Institute.
Keywords:  culture,  learning,  PDCA
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D.RAMAKUMAR July 25, 2015
1 Person AGREES with this comment

 

 

 

 

                 IAM D.RAMAKUMAR 

                 MY CHURN SHIFT 

 

Reply »

Deborah McGee October 09, 2015

PDCA! Have you explored Kata?

Reply »

Deborah McGee October 09, 2015

.

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