Understanding Lean Teamwork


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The Lean Concept of Respect for People was the topic of my recent podcast with David Veech. After reading the transcription of the podcast, I realized how much we talked about individuals and how they perform within teams. David has some great points. This transcription is well worth the time to read.

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Understanding Lean Teamwork

  1. 1. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Understanding Lean Teamwork Guest was David Veech Related Podcast: The Lean Concept of Respect for PeopleSponsored by The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  2. 2. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsDavid Veech is the founding member of the Institute for LeanSystems and serves as its Executive Director. He also serves asSenior Advisor and Director of Finance for the Compression Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to guiding learning organizations to dramatically reduce consumption of resources while maintaining or improving the quality of life of its people and its community. He is a faculty leader for Penn StateUniversity’s Smeal College of Business Executive Programs, and isa guest lecturer in The Ohio State University Fisher School ofBusiness Masters program in Business Operational Excellence.Finally, to focus on the fun part, David’s the owner of theBluegrass Revolution, a professional Ultimate team in theAmerican Ultimate Disc League. His coaching focuses on people in organizations and how lean, leadership, and learning systems contribute to overall employee satisfaction and well-being. He delivers keynotes and seminars on topics related to leadership, problem solving, suggestion systems, employee involvement, team building, and creating satisfyingworkplaces.He is the author of “The C4 Process: Four Vital Steps to BetterWork” (2011, Business Innovation Press, an imprint of IntegratedMedia Corp.) and “FirstLine: A team leader’s guide to leanthinking” (2005, PKI). The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  3. 3. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Transcription of PodcastJoe Dager: Welcome everyone. This is Joe Dager, the host ofthe Business901 podcast. With me today is David Veech. Davidthinks that work should be fun, exciting, challenging, andinteresting, and knows that it is leaders who can make or breakthis workplace.His coaching through his organization, Institute for Lean Systems,focuses on people in organizations and how lean, leadership, andlearning systems can contribute to overall employee satisfactionand well-being.David, I would like to welcome you and could you fill in somebackground about yourself and how you became, I dont want tosay an HR person, but how about a people person?David Veech: I spent 20 years in the army, so coming out ofcollege and going into the army as an officer. I was in infantry forthe first half of that and then they sent me off to grad school. Igot a degree in Industrial Management, and my second specialtywas in acquisition. So I did a lot of work with defense contractors,and they started talking about Lean things back then, and Istarted to want to learn more about that.I had read the "Machines Change the World" back in grad school,and I found it interesting. But it wasnt until I got an opportunityat my last job in the army.I was assigned to the Defense Acquisition University, and I wasteaching people in the production and quality manufacturingcareer field how to deal with these new changes that theyllprobably be seeing in these defense contractors and how theyshould be promoting these same kinds of changes.But at that time, I only really understood lean as a cost saving,cost cutting, kind of measure. As I started learning more about it, The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  4. 4. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsand as I started pulling the curriculum for it together for theDefense Acquisition University, I met the guys down from theUniversity of Kentucky.When Toyota built a plant outside of George Field, Kentucky, partof the package was that they would support graduate educationand had a pretty good partnership with the university.So they were firsthand observers of this second generation of theToyota production system that they were deploying in Kentucky.So working with them, we pulled together this curriculum that Istarted teaching pretty regularly, developed a few simulations,and then when I retired from the army in 2001, the University ofKentucky hired me.I worked there in the College of Engineering in the Center forRobotics Manufacturing Systems developing and teaching Leancourses and spending a boat load of time at Toyota to learnmore.About five years into that, we, my colleagues and I there, westarted to observe things like while we were getting goodfeedback from the workshops, we were teaching and everything.A lot of the people really didnt have the confidence to take moreaggressive action, to improve the workplaces, so we wanted to domore of this hands-on consulting.We ran into some issues in the University about being a businesslike that inside the University. So we ended up having to separatefrom the University, and we set up Institute for Lean Systems in2006 as a result, and its been a fun ride ever since.Weve got some great results from a lot of great organizationsand had a lot of fun. I guess the mortgage is getting paid so itsnot too bad. I started with the industrial management focus, but Iwould always watch these defense contractors whom I wasworking with, and Id watch them do a kind of event. The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  5. 5. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsI would see how they would have a group of experts kind ofdescend on the shop area where they were going to focus, andthey would spend the week just turning this place on its head andthen theyd leave.Then I would come in a week or so afterwards and talk to someof the folks, and they would end up undoing most of the stuff thatthe experts had done, so I figured they had to be something elsegoing on.They didnt talk to their people very much. And of course,everybody in lean knows now that you got to get your peopleengaged. Weve been talking about people for a long time, butthat kind of sparked me to start learning about how people learn.One of the workshops that I took at University of Kentucky wayback then that I sub sequentially started teaching, really focusedon problem solving as the main learning vehicle for people in theworkplace. And I thought those were the coolest things I hadever heard.So I got into a PhD program, first in educational psychology, andthen in general psychology because I had to switch schools, but Istarted really digging into what makes people tick, so I did a lotof studying about motivation, a lot of studying about leadership.Of course, Ive been a leadership student for forty years, so itsjust a fascinating field and theres never any definitive answerthat applies to everybody. So you still have to be able to shutyour mouth and open your ears and listen to somebody else, oryoure just not going to be effective.Joe: From an article, Ive read of yours recently, one of yourcomments rang true with me. It was just right in the firstparagraph is it that people have to believe have to believe inthemselves, or its really hard to contribute to the team. Would it The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  6. 6. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsbe fair to say you have to start to build confident incompetence atthe individual level before team concepts work?David: I think the team will come together more quickly if theindividuals prepared. The individual, the self-efficacy, thisconfidence that people bring to the table, its reallyenvironmentally sensitive. So if Ive created a work environmentwhere I dont care what you think. I want you to come to work; Iwant you to shut up; I want you to do what I tell you to do, and Iwant you to do it right.When I want you to go home and get the hell out of here. If Ivecreated that type of environment, people are going to seek someother outlet for these needs that we have to feel like we matter.That to me is one of the critical things, and thats a veryindividual thing, but it is highly influenced by the people withwhom you have relationships.If you have good relationships with your coworkers, then that is agreat environment to start. Its really easy for leaders to screwthat up.Joe: I hear that a lot about giving everyone more responsibilityover their work but does everyone really want that? Are therepeople that just want to come in, work eight hours, and gohome?David: Well, in my experience, there are, in my studies, therearent. I think everybody has a need to feel like they arecontributing to more than just what theyre doing, even a personwhos relatively introverted and pretty self-driven, and they liketo come in and do one little thing. I think when they can see thatthey can have an influence over a little more, and that it is notgoing to cost them in terms of their personal space or theirpersonal feelings, I think everybody will respond positively to The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  7. 7. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemshave more of this feeling of responsibility, more of this feeling ofsatisfaction, this confidence that comes from self-efficacy.I think everybody will respond positively to that. Some peopletake a little longer; some people may never come around, but Ido think it is within all of us to seek more things that are going tomake us happier.Joe: Do you think that comes from a lot of that team conceptthat if you have small-enough team, it is easier to gauge andeasier to relate to other the people and have the confidence toexpress yourself?David: I do, but I want to caution that in a lot of organizations,you do not just throw people together and expect the team towork. If you are put on a team with people who are annoying orreally horrible, then it is going to be a horrible experience. So wehave got to really be careful about building these times. It hasgot to be a deliberate action, and it takes an investment in theorganization to pull those team members together and actuallyhave them start behaving like a team.Really the main thing that most teams miss when we kind ofthrow them together is that they do not have that clear reasonfor being a team. So we do not want to pull a team together justto say, "Oh look, we have teams all over the place."The teams have to be focused on the work that has to be done.So I want a team that has to work together to accomplish thework, and then maybe it can be a bit more effective team.But we have got to invest in spending time with them and havingthem spend time together, get to know each other, seeing whateach other can do, and we have got to lay out this pattern ofsetting a standard, training them up to a standard, andchallenging them to go beyond that standard. The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  8. 8. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsAnd having that team support structure- that really they careabout each other, they want to work together; they want to seeeach other succeed- that is the most sustainable type of leanorganization I have ever seen.Joe: So you are saying that when you are building the team, youreally do have to identify maybe even the roles within the team alittle and get the right role players just like you need to build abasketball team up, let us say, or a football team, you have gotto have the right role players. You have got to have a rebounderand youve got to have a shooter, a passing guard or whatever.David: Well, and that is what the teams are going to find out.They are going to find out who is good at what. Even some leanorganizations, even some key Toyota suppliers, even Toyota itselfin Japan, they tend to have somebody kind of focused on onerole. Where, to get the true benefits that I am talking about inthis self-efficacy efficacy article, we really need them to domultiple things. We really need them to rotate. Now, at Kentucky,they rotate very effectively, but when we went to Japan to seethem working at Toyota City, they did not rotate. Some of thekey Toyota suppliers, they did not rotate.We talked to some very expert people who were fantastic at theirjob, but that is the only job they get to do. Variety is one of thekey pieces of a satisfying job. Despite the wonderful workenvironment that you might want to create, if your job sucks,your job sucks.So, if there are jobs that suck and then jobs that do not suckquite so bad, I want you to do a variety of different things duringthe day. I think that will have a positive impact on a personsfeelings of their worth, their contribution and I think it will buildbetter skills.It is also safer because they work different muscle groups, andwe have less of a chance of repetitive motion injuries and The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  9. 9. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsergonomic problems. So it is really important to me that we drivethis key rotation feature. So, that means the physical structure ofthe workplace, the engineering behind it, it has got to be in placetoo for the people stuff to really come out.Joe: You lead me to believe in the article that standard work canbe fun and lead to enthusiasm, but standard work has to bepretty strong in this concept that we talked about. When we dothese job changes and roles, it has to be understood what needsto be done.David: Absolutely, standardized work is the single mostimportant tool we have in the toolbox. If we screw it up, we aregoing to have problems, if we get it right, all kinds of other thingsfall into place. It is hard to get right. It takes a lot of time to getright. Once you get it right, once you enforce it -, - and you havegot to enforce it with an iron fist- you cannot be friendly and "Oh,well that is OK; you can you do it your own way." No, it has gotto be done the way the standardized work says, so that requiresenforcement with an iron fist.You see, there is a balancing act that we have got to kind of takeas a leader because it is our responsibility to make sure that theyare building skills, and the only way their skills are going toimprove is if we make sure they do it the same way every time.Now, in a mature organization that is used to standardized work,standardized work is ought to be changing every day, right? So,how do we balance that as well, how do you have a process thatallows people to change the standardized work every day and stillbuild skills?And that is one of the great mysteries that a lot of organizationsstruggle with. They think as they start rolling out thestandardized work, they are supposed to be changing it thatfrequently from the start. That is not the case. The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  10. 10. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsYou might take 6-8 weeks to define the standardized work.During that 6-8 weeks, it is going to change all the time aspeople explore new ways to do things. You get a couple of keypeople who are working to try to make sure you know what thestandard ought to be.When a small group of folks gets it right, set that standard andthen do not change that standard until everybody who is going tobe doing that work can go into that workplace and do the job tostandard without problems. When everybody has reached thatlevel of skills, then they are all more capable of coming up withcreative ways to make it better.Instead of squashing creativity, which a lot of people accusestandardized work of doing, and it sure sounds like we aresquashing creativity because, "You have got to do it this way!" itis actually laying a foundation for creativity to explode.When that creativity explodes, if the organization doesnt have adefined, clear, standardized process for making changes to thatstandardized work, they just screwed themselves.One of the first things youve got to do is figure out how you aregoing to change to standardized work before you start rolling itout in a broad basis. What I think the key thing in changingstandardized work is you have to have a thought process that isbased on, well; I call it the C4 process for concern, cause, andcountermeasure and confirm. Toyota calls it PDCA. Everythingthey do is driven by PDCA, as you know.Joe: Do you think individuals or teams need a coach? Do theyneed that outside observer looking in on them?David: Yeah, I do. Its not just that outside observer looking inon them; its a real support structure. Its somebody that you cango to when things arent going so well so you can get a little help.What we have to guard against is having people who, in that role, The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  11. 11. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemshaving people perceive them as the problem solvers. When Ivegot a problem, Im going to go to my team leader, and shesgoing to solve it for me. Thats not the case.When I got a problem, Ill let me team leader know. The teamleader comes to help, but the team leader comes and coaches methrough solving the problem so that my skills come up.Theres, again, another balancing act because many of theproblems we have at work, youve got to solve them prettyquickly to keep things going. How do we balance the need to getthe problem solved really quickly versus the skills development?Ive got some ideas about that as well.Joe: Do you use any simulation in your training? Do you thinkthat is a good way to learn?David: I love simulations. You can do more with an effectivesimulation in a shorter period of time than pretty much anythingelse. The only problem is if you dont take the time after thesimulation to really translate what happened in the simulation towhat happens in real life and then take that step in real life tomake a change, then its, "Well; we played a neat game, andthen we went back to work." The learning, the after-action reviewof a simulation, has to be really well done. You really have totease out the key lessons that people can actually apply.Ive got this LEGO simulation that I do that I just had a blastwith. Its really complicated. Ive got four different groups. Theyeach have to build a different section of an airplane. Then one ofthe teams is the system integrator, and theyve got to receive allof these incoming materials and put the aircraft together anddeliver it on time.It really exercises all of these lean principles of flow in the shopfloor, workplace organization, and standardized work. It also gets The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  12. 12. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsinto the supply chain because they all have to provide parts toeach other as well.I have a blast with it. It takes a good-sized group to do it, so itsnot always perfectly suitable. Right now Im using it in OhioStates Master of Business Operational Excellence Program. Imusing it at Penn State, I teach a class at Penn State a couple oftimes a year thats based around that simulation, plus our ownworkshops as well.Joe: One of the things that you talked about in the article is thatyou need time, the "learn by doing" approach, it takes time. Itseems to be the thing that everyone is short of. We blameleaders, that theyre too focused on the short term. But theyrejudged on the short term. Whats the answer? Whats thebalance? Can we have short-term results in training or smalleriterations in training?David: This is one of the harder things. When an organization isproperly aligned, and really committed to making this happen, itsnot a problem. Because everyone understands that the leadersrole is to support and develop the lead. They spend time in thatsupport and development role.The challenge comes in an organization that doesnt have it likethat, but youve got a couple of very enthusiastic folkssomewhere buried within the organization, that really want to beable to take the time to do this right. But because theorganization isnt aligned, because they havent set this as apriority, they will continue to pressure for results.Weve got to get results, dont get me wrong. Weve got to becompetitive. Weve got to be able to competent with other foreignorganizations and countries on a price basis. Weve got to becompetitive, so weve got to get those results. That doesnt meanwe cant stay competitive if we dont pass these skills along. The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  13. 13. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsIf we just hold a few key people who are known to for being ableto get results, if we hold them responsible for keeping theorganization afloat, what happens when they leave? If we haventdeveloped our organization to be competitive and responsive,then thats a crime. Weve got to have organizations be able todeliberately able to set the time.A lot of organizations have lots of meanings, right? The biggestcomplaint I get from conventional organizations, is the meetingsare a big waste of time. If we can change the focus, and changethe method of those meetings just a little bit, we can use thoseas key vehicles for developing skills and sharing information. Butits really important that we learn how to have meetings wherewe dont waste peoples time.If weve got our standardized work where we understand howlong things take, and we apply that same thinking to everyprocess in the organization, all the way to the chief executive,then time becomes a weapon that you can use to build theorganization more effectively and make it more competitive.It doesnt just become a ticking clock that can make peoplepanic. Time is an important weapon. But everything has to betied back to, what does it really take? How much time do I needto take to get this fixed?Ive got to tell you those organizations which have taken thatstep back and taken a deep breath and said; "I know weve got toget the results. “But if we dont get the results right, were goingto end up doing this again, and doing this again, and wastingtime. So lets stop now, do the detailed analysis we need to doright up front. Then apply what weve learned, and then get backon. Organizations that have done that are setting the worldsstandard today.Joe: Ive always used the terminology that standard work iswhat puts groceries on the table today. If you optimize your The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  14. 14. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsstandard work, if you get that, you do have the time to makeproductive changes and do training. Thats where you tend to dothe PDCA and the improvements, and everything. Do you feelthat is a correct assumption?David: Absolutely, like I said we have got to focus on what hasto be done, how long it is going to take to get that stuff done,how many people it is going to take to get that stuff done. Andthen yeah that actually does put us in a structure that allows usto think a little bit more clearly about what we are doing.We do need the discipline of a problem-solving process. WithinLEAN community because Toyota has publicized the "PDCA"process because they learned it from Deming so long ago it isimportant that we do this.But I want to tell you a little story about how PDCA relatesdirectly to this time thing we are talking about. Do you knowwhen Deming first talked about statistical quality and PDCA to theJapanese? That was 1951.Now I am looking at your picture here I know you have beenaround for a little while. In the 60s when you have a product thatsaid, "Made in Japan" on it; what did you think?Joe: It was cheap!David: Cheap and typically crap. It didnt really work, it wasjunk. In the 70s, starting to get a little better and we are startingto see a lot more Japanese cars on the road. But in the 70s itwas still, well, you know kind of cheap still. But still not as goodas our stuff, right?Then in the 80s, Japanese car companies are eating the lunch ofthe big three; when you cant even find, except in rare instances,USA brands of television and electronics. The Japanese are hereto stay because the stuff is great and never breaks. The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  15. 15. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsOK, so from the 50s when they kept Deming in Japan for 10years consulting on quality in the 50s, the realization of thoselessons wasnt seen in the market place for 25 - 30 years.So we are talking about a generational change in behavior thatleads to tangible measurable quality improvements thatcustomers can see.So this whole idea of getting things done quickly, if we can getover that and recognize that nothing really happens quickly thatlasts, then I think we will be in the right mindset for documentingour standardized work; for designing our jobs, for designing thework people have to do and standardizing that so that people canlearn it more effectively. So this stuff takes time.Joe: What is the best way to introduce change at the teamindividual level? Is there a blue print? Is there a thing you canleave listeners with? If Ive got to start, here is where I start?David: To me it always starts with the work that has to be done.Figure out what exactly the work has got to do. We have got todo some detail analyze of the job and break down the job.Training and industry stuff has all that stuff written down thestandardize worksheets have all that stuff broken out if we justfollow the set of rules that we have already given ourselves, it isreally not that bad.It has got to start with the work, Joe. We have got to look atwhat we have got to do, and we dont want to build waste withinthe work.Where we can organize a team of about four to five people, letsput the work together, organize that team and do a little of apilot. So pick a spot, do a pilot, learn how to do this for yourorganization. The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  16. 16. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing SystemsFigure out how to make it work, take six months, take a yearwith that one pilot area and then start spreading it around.If you try to do it at too many places at once you run out ofresources pretty quick you overwhelm people, and yourorganization tends to push back and say we are not going to dothis.So take a pilot, learn from that pilot and try whatever you want inthat pilot. So you have got to get the right people that you got toselect the people who are early adopters for that pilot and playaround with it until you can learn and then start spreading itaround.Now in a lot of cases because we work in systems and everyorganization is a complex system we cant just make one thingperfect and expect it to show up on the bottom line.So that can be our learning area, but we are going to have tostart improvements in other places pretty quickly. But rememberif we dont learn how to do it? We are going to pay some prettysevere lessons later down the road.Joe: David, what is on the horizon for you?David: Weve got a few things cooking up. Thanks to the LeanFrontiers guys who released this white paper. They are going tohave me come speak at their HR Summit, November 8th and 9th.We have also got a boat exhibition, "The International BoatExhibition" in Louisville, Kentucky; October the 1st through 3rd. Iget to do a half-day problem solving workshop on the first day,and then I am teaching one of the workshops in there, and I amgoing to deliver a key note address at the Marine DealersConference and Exhibition.The thing I am most excited about is the stuff that we do wehave got a Lean system workshop coming up. Weve got a series The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  17. 17. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsof three workshops that are very hands on, very practicallyfocused that is going to start at the end of August; we are goingto do a week in August.Give people some homework bring them back in September,some more homework projects and finish up with a week inOctober.And then December 3rd through 6th, we are going to do anexecutive program that is a two day lean overview based on asimulation focusing on system-level stuff, and then two days ofbench marking and some more class organizations nearby.So we have got some fun stuff coming up this fall, I am lookingforward to it.Joe: Where would someone find this information at?David: You can go to our website at www.theleanway.com.There are a lot of details about that. You can send me an emailDavidVeech@theleanway.com. LEAN Frontiers is going to bepromoting a lot of this stuff as well.Joe: If you could leave the listeners with one message, whatwould that be?David: Well, a lot of people talk about respect for people, andyou know that is one of the two over-arching drivers of theToyota way. Respect for people and continuous improvement. Weseem to pick up and get the continuous improvement piece, andwe say that we respect our people.We dont really understand that whole concept, and I would urgepeople to think about what it really means to show respect forsomeone else.When you choose because it is definitely a decision when youchoose to show respect for your workforce then that is going to The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  18. 18. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systemsopen up tremendous amounts of creative resources that willchange the way you think about your work.That will lead to a happy road down the way. It will make yourwork meaningful; it will make your work significant, and it willmake your work special.Just by having a better relationship with the people with whomyou work.Joe: I think that is a great message to leave everyone with. Iwould like to thank you very much. This podcast will be availableon the business901 blog site and the business901 iTunes store sothanks again, David.David: Thanks, Joe. The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901
  19. 19. Business901 Podcast TranscriptionImplementing Lean Marketing Systems Joseph T. Dager Business901 Phone: 260-918-0438 Skype: Biz901 Fax: 260-818-2022 Email: jtdager@business901.com Website: http://www.business901.com Twitter: @business901Joe Dager is president of Business901, a firm specializing inbringing the continuous improvement process to the sales andmarketing arena. He takes his process thinking of over thirtyyears in marketing within a wide variety of industries and appliesit through Lean Marketing and Lean Service Design.Visit the Lean Marketing Lab: Being part of this community willallow you to interact with like-minded individuals andorganizations, purchase related tools, use some free ones andreceive feedback from your peers. Marketing with Lean Book Series included in membership Lean Sales and Marketing Workshop Lean Service Design Workshop The Lean Concept of Respect for People Copyright Business901