By Jon Miller | Post Date: October 21, 2007 10:00 PM | Comments: 9
Here is a mixed bag of thoughts on common Lean education mistakes and a few recommendations on how to avoid them:
#1: Teaching things rather than teaching thinking
If one thing can be said about the Lean tools, it is that they work. Yet Lean transformations don't work so well when the emphasis of Lean education is on things - the Lean tools - rather than on the thinking that got people to the point of finding or developing these Lean tools. The Lean tools and the results they bring are the most tangible and easiest place to start education, but not the best place.
Recommendation: Teach the tools, but make clear the thinking behind them.
#2: Having no focal point
Presentation and speaking coaches recommend having no more than three main points per speech, and to repeat these points three times, once at the beginning, once during the body of the presentation and once at the end. The three ideas should have a common focal point. The delivery of the training should match this, so that the learner can anchor on a key image, piece of text, exercise or story. Presenters who walk all around the room and use every possible writing and presenting surface waste not only motion, but erode attention and focus.
Recommendation: Stand in a circle when presenting and have a purpose if you leave it.
#3: Positioning lean incorrectly
There are different levels to and reasons for Lean education, generally for the purpose of building awareness or knowledge. Context is at least as important as content, so carefully consider how you position the content you deliver before and as you deliver it.
Recommendation: Position lean within the stream of what is important to your organization in terms of values and purpose.
#4: The doom and gloom kick off
Would you dim the lights, play somber music, put up cobwebs and release bats in preparation for Lean education? Not unless there was a Halloween party scheduled right after it. Yet not a few Lean education sessions begin with "change or die" as the message. All this does is confirms in people's minds the negative aspects of what they have heard about Lean. To prime people for learning, emphasize the positive reasons for Lean and kaizen. When people need to know why, fact-based statements about the competitive situation can be made to motivate people.
Recommendation: Go with a more festive theme.
#5: Confusing Lean education and Lean training
As a rule, education should provide some new knowledge and training should involve doing. It's not cut and dry, but think of it as theory and practice.
Recommendation: Remember that Taiichi Ohno said, "Understanding means doing."
#6: Shutting down the naysayers
Some of the most valuable insights you can gain about what it takes to make Lean succeed in your organization come from people who say "It will not work here." Provided you ask "Why?" and really listen, you can quickly enhance your Lean education efforts from the theoretical to the practical.
Recommendation: Thank people who say nay to lean, write down their comment, and address it during the class. Remember that you are on the same side.
#7: Putting more emphasis on the presentation slides than on what you say
Education requires a sensei (teacher) and one or more students. Presentation slides are optional.
Recommendation: Use few slides, a few, high impact visuals, a few, high impact statistics.
#8: Reading or reciting from a script
Whatever you say should be genuine and relevant to the people who are listening. The words you say should be of higher value than the words on the screen. For the most part adults want what they learn to be practical, of use. Know you material deeply enough so that your value to the class is in answering questions and providing relevant examples, rather than being Power Point made flesh.
Recommendation: Don't be afraid to go off-script and teach what the class wants to learn.
#9: High tech waste of processing
In 1998 the state of the art for Lean education for Gemba clients was hollow box containing a light bulb, an articulating arm with an adjustable mirror, and a transparent surface for placing the mylar sheets otherwise known as our training materials. It wasn't animated, but it worked. We knew about Power Point, and in fact used it to design slides which we printed on plastic. We never had problems with sleeping laptops, connection problems, hot training rooms due to the cooling fan of the electronics. Times have changed, computer projectors have gotten smaller and cheaper, and it's rare that we have to take our own. Now in the training rooms of our most technologically advanced clients, we can amaze the students with all sorts of fiddly lasers, wireless devices, remote controls, and retractable screens. These are all very good until they start acting up and wasting your time.
Recommendation: Use only proven, reliable technology to assist you in Lean education.
#10: Setting a "sufficient" level of education for Lean
One of the aims of Lean is the continuous development of people and their capabilities. So it would be a contradiction to intentionally limit the amount of Lean education, or any type of education.
Recommendation: Get started with Lean education and stop only when you have attained perfection.
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