Here's the next chat between Emiel, Bob and I, digging into the deeper issues behind organisational transformation, lean and leadership.
In this episode, we are again joined by Alfredo Solarte Angulo, but this time, with those he has been helping from Fondo Accion a Non Government Organisation (NGO) focused on the Environmental, Economic and Social development of historically challenged regions of Columbia. The Fondo Accion team have embraced lean principles and tools with more gusto than we see in a typical western manufacturing improvement initiative ... and we were intrigued to discover why.
#lean #leanleadership #BTFA #psychology
Struggling with a dodgy connection from different parts of Colombian forests and mountains, you may find you have to skip parts of this discussion while you wait for everyone to re-connect lol ... but if you do go through it, I guarantee you'll get some great insights!!
I haven't summarised what we've discussed in the previous live streams, mainly because it was Emiel, Bob and I doing a lot of the talking, so it seemed pretty conceited to summarise our own thinking as something to take notice of!
However, this episode gives me the opportunity to capture the key points made by others, which seem most noteworthy to me.
Now, I have to accept, my observations will necessarily be filtered to suit my own biases, i.e. it's only natural that I pick out the things that appeal to me / confirm my world view as 'right'.
For anyone who has seen the previous episodes, you'll know that's because I have a brain ... and everything I think can only be a result of my current brain wiring (neuroscience) and much of what I perceive, will be structured by my brain to confirm myself as right (psychology).
In BTFA terms (Believe-Think-Feel-Act), what I see will confirm what I already believe. This is what is known as Scotomas/psychological blind spots, so I'm bound to pick out parts from this talk that others might not ... but that's the point of these activities - to share different world views, share our knowledge, gained from experience and see if we can be better together ... to challenge the thinking that doesn't compliment progress (noting it is only our own thinking we can choose to change - and hearing from others helps us challenge ourselves - Hansei / Kaizen).
That accepted, what was volunteered seems to promote the idea that we've been barking up the wrong tree in the west for a long time and the right tree is more to do with a sense of community than it is to do with the logical and rational application of tools.
So what did we hear?
"As I am, We are"
This is a statement Ivonne shared with us half way through the conversation, explaining it is an African saying that seems to her to be very similar to the Japanese philosophies that drove the development of the solutions we've copied as a tool box.
I wanted to bring this to the top of these notes because it highlights everything we've missed while trying to copy the by-product of such beliefs. It also reminds me of other African sayings i've heard about people in the past like "You don't make grass grow faster by pulling it".
Ivonne went on to say 'Thinking is the best tool' ... when working from a position of 'community'.
Diego complemented this thread, with the following ...
"You can keep using a hammer to cut a tree if you don't change your thinking".
The other great way of challenging ourselves (which we have to acknowledge is the 1st foundation stone in 'The Toyota Way'), that came out of this conversation, is promoting honesty!! This was highlighted to me when Diego said about Muda (waste in their own messaging)
"We have to ask ourselves, and each other, what we should not do, what we should stop doing, and ask such questions with honesty"
In practice what this looked like, was a leadership team, humble enough to recognise their message wasn't clear and choosing to do something about it. To challenge their own assumptions. The team used an A3 methodology to help them recognise that the technicians in the field didn't have the knowledge, they themselves took for granted. i.e. they didn't have the agronomy knowledge they needed, to understand what they had to improve ... the language registers were too far apart for meaning to be translated from one team to another.
Instead of blaming the technicians for getting it wrong, those presenting the message looked in the mirror and took responsibility for their actions.
Q. Can you think of any communications that might need the same kind of review? Between Sales, Operations and Finance for example?
At the beginning of this chat, the first thing that came out was the fact that Alfredo introduced the principles first. As described by Camila, this was as follows ...
1. Develop the mindset to solve problems and embrace the self-reflection generated by a lean culture
2. Understand the importance of continuous flow in a value adding process
3. Use the tools to improve performance and visualise the evolution of improvement (e.g. use A3, Hoshin Kanri etc. to help celebrate success and identify areas requiring support).
Later in the conversation Elias explained a lot more about visualisation and the tools, sharing a view of his Kanban board and the RAG system applied to responsible names.
Camila went on to say more about 'Mindset' including 'Respect for People' and 'The Truth of the Problem', (which is incredibly important) but the highlight for me in all of this was an early observation, again, from Diego, who drew parallels from his connection to the land (farming) and the principles of Lean.
He said, he has learned that ...
"he has to consider the internal and external factors and join them together to have an holistic view ... but not let this trick him into thinking one solution can be a recipe for every field"
The other way around, this team highlighted that you have to fix issues, but maintain the flow of the project... Ivonne complimented this train of thought when she said, "Lean achieves alignment between all the actors .. out of respect, they reach consensus and share opinion and knowledge, because they recognise all people can contribute something important to all other people"
In the Colombian rain forest, and across the country, this is a recognised concept ... it is known as 'The knowledge of change'. When you listen to these guys talking about it, you can't help but hear the Japanese theory of BA, which we inadvertently refer to when we talk about Gemba ... i.e. the Japanese 'belief' that knowledge creation can be accelerated by creating spaces in which people can share openly, honestly etc., while acting for the benefit of all, when acting as a team and not from a position of self interest.
There is so much more to say about this chat ... but these are the big points that stood out for me (confirming my own world view :-) ) ... I'll let you listen and take your own notes to see if you hear what I did .. feel free to leave comments and carry on the investigation here.