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Five Tips on Lean Coaching

by Lean Leaper
July 9, 2018

Five Tips on Lean Coaching

by Lean Leaper
July 9, 2018 | Comments (0)

The upcoming Lean Coaching Summit in Seattle next week promises to boost your ability to coach in a lean manner. Among the presenters at the event are the following people, all of who have shared resources on the LEI site that have excellent guidance on this dynamic topic. Here are some tips derived from key resources of theirs:

Explore the Real Problem and How Your Coaching Affects It

In this Humble Conversation with Edgar Schein, John Shook reveals how he has become more aware of the unintended consequences of coaching others, and the potential drawbacks of “helping” someone by guiding them to a solution.  

“As soon as I find myself going into the mode of?solving someone’s problem, then I’m working against the real problem, which is that the person does not?have the insight to know how to solve the problem that they need to solve. Keeping those separate, your problem and their problem, is a specific way to deal with the challenge you raise.”

Listen to When and How You Ask Questions When Coaching  

In Want to Be a Better Leader and Coach? Listen to Yourself, David Verble suggests that the way you ask questions has as much if not more bearing upon the people you are coaching, and that recording your coaching sessions will help you recognize how you are approaching this work. By playing back exactly what you said and observing how you acted, you gain insights into whether you are inviting others to think with you. You can reflect on whether you are asking or telling, using open-ended or leading questions, and seeking to learn as opposed to confirming things you already believed, Verble says. 

Recognize How Prioritization Often Covers A Multitude of Problems

Most of us are overloaded, says Jim Benson, and “when we are overloaded we feel we need to prioritize our work. We don’t know what to do because our options are so many and our time, so limited.” In his Post on The 5 Diseases of Prioritization, Benson proposes underlying causes for us to adopt what is essentially a ranked to-do list as a countermeasure to having too many things to do. He suggests becoming more aware of your goals and your capacity; of building in feedback to your work with others, of creating rigid plans that hinder rather than support optimal results, and of draining your work system of the politics that block effective action.

Remember that Lean is a Creative Ethic

In this first Post of a three-part series, Tom Richert and Joanna McGuffey draw from experience and research on the artistic process to remind us that understanding lean practice as a system based on mindful awareness of how one works helps one “work on the right side of the brain,” as it were:

“This creative approach requires developing awareness, mindfulness, and curiosity; which then leads to further exploration, and an attitude of never settling for good enough. If that sounds familiar it is because the artists understood lean as a creative ethic is a way of being. It’s continuous. It allows us to work and play in a way that benefits the person, the family, and the enterprise. The question the artist seeks to consider is where to stress the system; a tactic well practiced by Taiichi Ohno, who in his own way may also have been an artist.”

Focus Your PDCA on Yourself

In Personal PDCA and How I Learned It, Mark Reich shares how the patient coaching of his mentor at Toyota helped him to understand about the long-term goal of helping individuals frame problems as opportunities for personal growth:

“A fundamental part of true lean culture is that everyone every day will improve their job. But that means the job will change every day, and therefore the team member’s capabilities will also need to be continuously developed. A manager must take responsibility to continuously develop his or her people, and both team member and manager must take responsibility for personal PDCA.”

The views expressed in this post do not necessarily represent the views or policies of The Lean Enterprise Institute.
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