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Mike Rother

Mike Rother: We Can Tell You How to Find the Answer

By Mike Rother, - Last updated: Friday, June 28, 2013 - Save & Share - Leave a comment

Question:  How can Lean be sustained across a decentralized group geographically spread out?

The daily behavior of people — the social side of Lean — is primarily what defines a culture of continuous improvement. Lean behavior as observed at Toyota is fractal. That is, each element of the organization is using the same basic pattern of working — the way we do things around here. This in sum produces the organization’s processes, products, services and business results.

If ‘sustaining in a decentralized organization structure’ is your current challenge, then I think you should apply your organization’s Lean behavior pattern (kata) to that challenge. In fact, this may be the best online answer anyone can give to your question.

If someone suggests specific solutions to your problem without grasping the current condition at your Gemba, or just states broad principles as advice, then that’s not really Lean thinking and behavior. There’s a knowledge threshold and talking much beyond it, instead of experimenting your way forward on specifics, is only speculation and teaches, well, non-Lean thinking.

With that in mind, here’s a set of 5 questions — a behavior pattern! — that you can apply to your overarching ‘sustaining’ challenge every day:

  1. What is our next target condition on the way to our challenge condition?
  2. What is the actual condition now?
  3. What obstacles do you think are preventing us from reaching the target condition? Which one obstacle are you addressing now?
  4. What is your next step and what do you predict will happen?
  5. When can we go and see what we’ve learned from taking that step?

The link below takes you to an article that describes how a construction-industry team applied their Improvement Kata when faced with a challenge not unlike yours, and as a result went in an unexpected direction. It’s worth reading:

Construction Kata

Lean mindset and behavior acknowledge the unpredictable nature of systems; that we can’t reliably predict what will work. Within that paradigm, then, teams experiment, learn, adapt and innovations emerge. Or as we used to say, keep on truckin’ man.

Mike

Keep On Truckin'

 

 

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