Home' AME : AME Target Fall 2017 Contents 26 TARGET AME.ORG/TARGET
There is something they didn’t understand
about the process that caused them
to predict the output incorrectly. These
organizations use the hourly production
chart learn more about their process, and
ensure the team member has the full sup-
port of management required for success.
We miss all of this if we only look at whether
or not the chart is being filled out. The mere
presence of the tool tells you nothing about
the underlying behavior. You have to look at
what people do and adjust your interven-
tions accordingly. The implications here are
simple: If you aren’t crystal clear about the
behavior you want, then you aren’t check-
ing for it. If you aren’t checking for it, no
learning is happening. You might be forcing
the tools into place, but you aren’t changing
the default behavior of the organization.
What you can try
Work with continuous improvement staff
Check to see how clear you were about
what you want people to do every day, not
just during a special improvement event.
This is sometimes very difficult for mem-
bers of a continuous improvement office
who are technical experts. I commonly
hear something like, “We want people to
make improvements every day,” or, “We
want leaders to act as coaches,” but those
are outcomes, not what people do. It’s like
telling a sports team they need to work
harder on defense.
Going back to the example above, how
do you want leaders to respond if a team
member falls behind on his work? Define
that in a way you can test by observation:
You get the desired response, or you get
something different. How can you tell?
Work through a few of those stories.
Then predict what training, coaching
and organizational mechanisms would
encourage what you want and dis-
courage what you do not want. The
companies profiled above use Mike
Rother’s Improvement Kata and Coach-
ing Kata as structures for practicing the
behaviors and skills involved in making
improvements and coaching.
Don’t implement; experiment!
Whatever you plan to do, as you carry
out your planned activity, challenge
yourselves to follow your own standard
explicitly. That is simply good experi-
mental protocol, and is the reason we
emphasize “standards” so heavily in this
world — because if you aren’t sure what
you did, you can’t be sure why you got a
Observe your result. Does it match your
prediction? How can you tell? If not,
then did you actually follow your own
standard? If not, then ask why. What
kept you from following the standard?
What have you learned?
If you did follow the standard, what have
you learned? Do you need to adjust in
some way? Do you need to work on
some skill? Is something less clear than
Then set it up and do it again.
As a continuous improvement practi-
tioner, you should practice following
this discipline before trying to teach it
to others. In doing so, you will begin to
think differently about everything you do.
You no longer pretend to know the solu-
tion; you know how to test your ideas.
Hint: The more certain you feel, the more
important it is to experiment and test.
Apply to leadership
Leaders, you have the same
challenge as above: Apply the thinking
of deliberate learning to your own
activities, and those of your direct
Try experimenting with accepting
no action item with a deadline later
than the next staff meeting. “I know it
will take three weeks; where will we
be by next Wednesday?” Make a
prediction, with a testable outcome.
Write it down. See what you learn about
your own expectations.
At the next review, the status isn’t simply
red, yellow or green. Ask, “What actually
happened?” Compare that with the pre-
diction, and explicitly ask “What did we
learn?” and then, “Okay, what steps are
we taking in the next week?” and, “What
will we see if that is successful?”
Change requires practice
If you practice like this for a year, I would
predict you will be behaving much closer
to the “benchmark” organization that
you would have been if you had merely
attempted to copy their tools and audit
your way to compliance.
Mark Rosenthal is principal at Novayama LLC.
Follow his blog at TheLeanThinker.com.
Target versus actual production boards can be used to compare the actual pace of work with the intended pace.
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