How do I know a good Lean consultant/coach when I see one?

Someone asked this question in the who I am page so I thought I would post my whole answer here as it was an excellent question! So here it is:

That is an excellent question!! I might have to write a post about that (note I have written a post just pasted the comment, I like to think of that as lean ;)). Firstly, if they profess to know and have done everything then you should be suspicious. Lean is a learning experience and not hubris. This makes humility a key skill in any good lean practitioner, the ability to learn and not rigidly stick to one approach is key. Ask them how they got to where they are today, if everything is perfect and all projects delivered perfect incredible results be suspicious. Ask what their influences are? How do they connect to the lean community? If they do read their stuff, blog, tweets, book etc. I have tremendous respect for Mark Graban as he puts it all out there. Being a lean thinker is about putting yourself out there and accepting input from others. Finally as a coach or a consultant (in any form not just lean) they should spend more time listening to your problems and your needs than they do telling you what you should do. There is a never a one size fits all approach in lean and be wary of those trying to sell you that. Lean is about learning how to implement basic principles in diverse situations. 

What else would you add?

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Delivering Kepner Tregoe’s new PSDM course

There are some challenges with delivering the revised 3 day PSDM material from how it was previously. As those who have attended or taught the course will know before the course was very heavy on using easels. Easels were used for everything; process demonstration, case studies, teaching aids, lists and so on. A lot of easels. This also meant, a lot of easel writing for the course leader. Either as pre-written easels (and the subsequent headache of flipping between them…) or writing them on the fly (messing handwriting anyone?). The revised material brings with it a reduction in this easel based headache. Firstly, several of the easels that were to be pre-written for training material now exist in the powerpoint presentations with animations. Examples of these are the IS/IS NOT venn diagram or the deviation/standard/changes diagram, and they are much better for it. Secondly and this is due to necessity of increased process steps and more rich (note I am not saying complex) case studies, it is not really possible to fit all of the discover case/process demo on easels. In my conversion we were recommended to still do these on easels to some degree. however, I practised this at home (yes I have 2 easels in my apartment) and I just could not make it flow. I therefore decided to develop the blind specification into a blank table in powerpoint as the course attendees fed me the information. This requires a little extended desktop setting changes in windows but worked very well for both myself and the attendees.
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This is all well and good but this then also raises another serious issue to deal with when teaching the new material. How do the attendees document their team work on cases? We cannot comfortably fit these on easels anymore as already discussed. I experimented a little with this. First I tried giving them the new ledger sheets. This worked ok, however, they tended to work individually rather than together and couldn’t present from it to the rest of the groups. After this was not all that satisfactory I got the attendees to sign-up and download the worksheet or the app or preferably both! This proved very successful. Teams then set one person in charge of documenting into the worksheet or app and the rest focussed on the example. It also made presenting very easy indeed. One minor challenge was that not all the team members could see everything but this will be solved for future course by having break-out rooms with external monitors.

Data Related Rant

Hello there people! Sorry for being so quiet. Lots and lots of travelling has been done. I am a little more settled this month so expect some more wisdom (?) to be imparted through this blog over the next few weeks. I just wanted to have a quick rant…. and it is about data. Or rather the way people interpret changes in values over the short term…. (I think many of you see where this is going)

These days everyone likes to talk a lot about making decisions with data. Unfortunately everyone who says this rarely understands the data that they see in front of them. I haven’t got good graphics at the moment to demonstrate these points so bare with me. I will add some later.

Usually data graphs are generated in excel and will look like a month by month value plotted on an over-sized scale. What does this tell us? Well it can tell us over time what trend we are dealing with. If I plot turnover per month for a full year I can get an idea whether it looked reasonably stable or not (?) or at least see if it is trending upwards or downwards. Usually upwards is preferred in this case! But how do I know if it is stable or not? If those month by month variations are small compared to the absolute value, how do I interpret them? If I am not looking at a large data set or rather a value month by month or week by week how do I know what the trend is or will be? Unfortunately, these are questions that are rarely rarely asked, but they should be.

I would suggest that if you do not know at the top of your mind what the answer to the above questions is you check out what a control chart is. There are lots of great resources online and on amazon for these. Wheeler wrote what many consider to be the premier books on the subject. The principles are very simple and easy to follow and despite what many people tell you, you don’t need minitab to draw them. I prefer a pencil, ruler, calculator and graph paper myself! Check it out, see what you think and let me know if it helps!