Every year in July hundreds of lean practitioners gather for The Lean Coaching Summit. Participants will hear stories from lean thought leaders and change agents (across a wide variety of sectors) about what a lean learning system looks like in practice, leadership behaviors that develop the problem solving capabilities of others, Training Within Industry techniques and principles, servant leadership, and how to engage people in actively improving their work and the work of the organization.
Looking forward to the Summit this year, we’ve gathered 5 tips/coaching skills you can take back with you to your organization from coaching summits in years past and articles here on the Post.
Encourage Inquiry Over Advocacy (Margie Hagene)
“We can approach a conversation advocating on behalf of our ideas and opinions and what we believe to be solutions to our problems (or an organizational problem), or we can initiate a true dialogue by speaking from a place of inquiry. We do the latter by asking questions that help us focus on the work and help the problem-solver understand where he/she is in the problem-solving process. For example, the following are some questions we might experiment with as coaches:
- What’s the problem you’re trying to solve?
- How would you describe what is happening and what should be happening?
- What have you looked at or heard?
- What makes you sure you have the cause/effect link?
- What have you thought about trying?
- What impact do you expect this countermeasure to have?”
Swap Heroic Leadership for Problem Solving (Josh Howell)
“I see this scene played out time and time again. Managers and front line workers hustle to work around problems resulting from poorly designed work systems (if it is justifiable to use the words ‘design’ and ‘system’) and with such pride! We all like to be the hero, I suppose. I certainly did. Knowing what I know now, however… this scene breaks my heart. Because there really is a better way!”
Respect People by Giving Them Challenging Work (Mark Reich)
“How do we support the work to get done? The primary motivation for the majority of people is not money, promotion, or flexibility; it is the ability for each person to feel that they are performing challenging, meaningful work. That’s why doling out pay raises or promotions is a short-term solution at best. Like steroids (a quick injection to boost performance), the stimulation wears off and we need another shot to keep pace. Of course people want to be compensated and recognized for their efforts, but these are not the primary motivators for most people.
Management of every organization must ask the question: how can I create sustainable strong capability and motivation for the organization through the development of each team member’s capability?”
Ask Effective Questions (Tracey Richardson)
“In many cases, I may know the answer or think I know the answer to a question I’m asking, or know what I want the learner to do, but what I really need to do is transfer the power to them by asking them to think with me, helping them realize I need them and their ideas. If they think I have all the answers, this is the exact opposite of what we want to be doing… Good coaching is about asking the right questions in an inviting manner. The learner must feel their expert opinion is needed since they are the process owner. It’s up to me to create that environment. Asking questions well is the key to building a relationship of mutual trust and respect.”
Use A3 Thinking to Tell a Story Everyone Can Understand (John Shook)
“The A3 process is a job aid to engage and develop problem solvers… It’s about getting everyone to learn how to tell their problem story on one piece of paper. And through sharing that story, we’re going to be able to engage others so we can have an aligned view of what the current situation is. And it’s going to make it easier for me, as a coach, to ask good questions… The piece of paper that tells a story is a snapshot of what’s going on in the [A3 owner’s/learner’s] mind.”