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Try These Three Deliberate Practices of Lean Coaching

by Dan Prock
June 15, 2018

Try These Three Deliberate Practices of Lean Coaching

by Dan Prock
June 15, 2018 | Comments (6)

Most of us think of the Deming Wheel of PDCA, Plan-Do-Check-Adjust as the most fundamental thought and action approach for continuous improvement. It’s been tested and proven many times over the decades. Yet is PDCA the role, the standard work of a lean coach? I don't believe so, and think that if it was, it would be the waste of rework. I've found that a lean coach uses three deliberate practices that keep continuous improvement focused and purposeful.

The first deliberate practice of a lean coach is mindfulness. The practice of mindfulness is to frequently get a fresh observation, a new conscious “take” on what’s happening in the moment.  An effective coach learns to be mindful and perceive “what is” without preconceptions or bias.

Second, a mindful coach would confirm or refine the purpose of the next improvement or experiment. For example, perhaps a machine is going out of calibration and the cause is unknown. A prior PDCA may have targeted improving the programming of the computer controls, but on second examination the purpose might change to a simpler "experiment" like switching the brand or hardness of inserts that do the cut the metal.

Third, a disciplined coaching method might be Socratic questioning, Toyota Kata, A3 people development, or just brainstorming kaizen ideas and doing quick experiments. The deliberate practices of mindfulness and purpose increase the quality, the focus of PDCA by Job performers and teams. The diagram below illustrates the three deliberate practices of lean coaching as a pinion gear that rotates an individual or team to do PDCA, pictured as a larger ring gear. The lean coach’s role isn’t promoting lean tools, checking metrics or process confirmation or following-up on previous kaizen events. It’s adding value by doing the three deliberate practices to keep the big PDCA gear spinning clockwise.

As the wheels turn toward each other, on the left side a lean coach would be mindful to grasp the situation and check plans on the right, then be purposeful in helping job performers adjust their plan, and finally use a deliberate coaching method to focus them on the “do”. A number of newer lean coaching methods are popular, including Toyota Kata, A3 people development, customer-back coaching, as well as old reliable, PDCA kaizen by doing quick experiments.

So a lean coach’s role isn’t PDCA; he or she uses the practices of mindfulness to grasp the always-new situation, and purpose to adjust improvement plans accordingly, and coaches a plan and experiment to close a gap. The coach’s role is to increase the quality of PDCA, not to do the PDCA. Every work situation evolves and new factors arise. Like change in work and life itself, continuous improvement needs to be constantly “new”.

Develop your coaching skills alongside other coaches at the Lean Coaching Summit, this July 18 and 19 with workshops on the 17th, in Seattle. Learn more at: http://leancoachingsummit.com/

 

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Lean Enterprise Institute.
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6 Comments | Post a Comment
Harry Kenworthy June 20, 2018

Just to correct the author, many in the Lean world call PDCA what Dr. Deming utilized. This is incorrect. Dr. Deming was focused on PDSA (Plan-Do-Study-Act). This was clarified again in an article by Ron Moen recently. Link: https://blog.deming.org/2016/05/cliff-norman-and-ron-moen-discuss-the-history-of-the-pdsa-cycle/

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dan prock June 25, 2018

Correction received.

Reply »

Chuck Wynn July 06, 2018

Hi Dan,

I really appreciated the insights you provided in this article. I did have a question around one of your statements that I hope you can help me with.

You state: "The coach’s role is to increase the quality of PDCA, not to do the PDCA." This really resonated with me, but it automatically caused me to ask the question, "How do we measure the quality of a PDSA?" What are the KPIs that you look at to assess whether the quality of the PDSA cycles are either getting better, getting worse, or staying the same? What target conditions do you identify and establish for the continuous improvement activities that you coach others in? What's the "ideal state" for a PDSA cycle that you as a coach strive for?

As our team continues to grow and mature, we are moving away from the tactical activities and more into a coaching role within our company. Understanding how a Lean coach assesses the quality of the PDSA being performed and where the opportunities may be to improve it, will tremendously benefit the folks that we serve. 

Kind regards,

Chuck Wynn

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dan prock July 06, 2018

chuck

Interesting comment.  I'lll give it some thought.

We know that objectively quality is meeting the requirements of customers. Who is the customer for PDSA, the lean coach the operations manager, or the employees sereved?

What is the standard the opeations manager or employee team might have for quality in a PDSA?

The usual ones are QCDSM - quality of product, cost, delivery, safety, morale.

In the real-time coaching of PDSA there's a process measure for quality - its being fully mindful or present in the situation as root problems are found and possible solutions are discussed.

Your thoughts?

Reply »

Chuck Wynn July 09, 2018

Hi Dan,

Thank you for kindly responding. Let's interact on the questions you posed:

"We know that objectively quality is meeting the requirements of customers. Who is the customer for PDSA, the lean coach the operations manager, or the employees served?"

I would say that, as with many things, there are multiple customers that a Lean coach needs to consider when considering how to measure the quality of a PDSA cycle: The employees being coached; the area manager; and site leadership are all internal customers that come immediately to mind.

"What is the standard the opeations manager or employee team might have for quality in a PDSA? The usual ones are QCDSM - quality of product, cost, delivery, safety, morale."

If we go with the idea of creating the most value using the least amount of resources in the shortest lead time, then we'd be increasing the quality of the PDSA by doing these things--increased value coming from PDSA that required less resourses and a shorter lead time. The increased value would be quantifiable by its impact to a KPI associated with SQDCM (I like putting safety first :-)).

"In the real-time coaching of PDSA there's a process measure for quality - its being fully mindful or present in the situation as root problems are found and possible solutions are discussed."

How does one qualitatively measure "being fully mindful or present in the situation" so that we can check and adjust as needed? What's the standard that we measure such by?

I look forward to further engagement on this!

Kind regards,

Chuck

Reply »

dan prock July 09, 2018

Chuck

Sounds right. here are a few thoughts, it would take applied research to prove valid the ways a good lean coaches delivers service and perhaps even develop a predictive survey.

Lean coaching is a service that raises the quality of PDSA. Who is the customer? The manager, supervisor, job performer or team being served at the time. Customer ultimately, but that is constrained by downstream elements.

Outcomes

  • Number or quality of ideas for improvement
  • Tangible experiments run
  • Compaing improvement of QCDSM before and after
  • New possibilities for improving a full value stream
  • See self and others learning lean values and principles
  • See strengths and weaknesses in other and get permission to coach
  • Create teachable moments that impact other’s basic thinking, philosophy of how change happens
  • Grow an appetite for continuous improvement in others
  • Practices shu-ha-ri of increasing coaching challenges
  • Gain agreement on targets and goals
  • Satisfaction on collaboration to solve problems and develop people

 

Presence while coaching

  • Being mindful of “what is” without judging
  • Let go of attachments of one’s own agenda in order to reflect and dialogue
  • Not holding on to hard feelings; doesn't blame others
  • Enjoys the challenge of unknowns, and complex issues
  • Practices self-reflection in real time

How to measure?

  • Snap “ping” of an Apple watch, PC etc
  • Immediate observation and recording by an experienced coach
  • Concurrent self-reflection and/or on-line diary
  • Post customer survey 
  • Video taping and reflection
  • Audio taping and reflection
  • Setting goals for coaching improvement and doing a snap feedback reflection with the coachee  


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