A Lean culture has two pillars, continuous improvement and respect for people. Great coaching is a place where these two meet. That is why we have made coaching a key part of the Deliver more value through Lean thinking course.
The two-day course will fill your head with exciting ideas and I hope you leave inspired to try them out. The intention is that you and your team will see significant and measurable benefits from the improvement projects you undertake after the course. You might be freeing up time or improving a customer’s service. You might be completely re-setting team priorities. You will also be building skills so that you can deliver more and more benefits in the future.
It can be very easy for these inspiring ideas to get lost in the return to the daily pressures of work. Or for you to start, get a bit stuck and set the project aside for something more in your comfort zone. The coaching sessions are intended to help you over those bumps and give your incipient skills a chance to grow.
The best way to learn is by doing and the best time to have someone help you is when you are right in the middle of that doing. By help I do not mean do it for you, or even tell you what to do. I mean asking you good coaching questions and challenging you in a way that helps you build learning and experience. This develops your skills and helps you in turn coach your team.
A Lean coach facilitates the person being coached to develop their own thinking, to uncover skills they did not realise they had, and to practice thinking in a new way. A Lean coach is also constantly learning and developing their own skills, Lean and coaching.
This is how the six coaching sessions after the course might play out for one imaginary improvement project. The content of each session will depend very much on the project:
Session 1: Coaching focused on ensuring you have picked the right improvement project? What is the problem you are trying to solve and why does it matter to your customers? Who are your stakeholders? What evidence can you collect?
Session 2: Have you really understood the current condition? Have you got a clear measurable goal for what success will look like? What ways will you explore and understand root causes. How are you involving you team?
Session 3: More challenges on root causes as you uncover them. Are you digging deep enough? Who else do you need to talk to? Whose voice is not yet heard? You might be starting to think about countermeasures – actions to take to close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be. Are your team involved? Any challenges not mentioned?
Session 4: More work on developing countermeasures. How to prioritise them to ensure you/your team expend your energies on the right things. How to manage activities and ensure priorities are maintained.
Session 5: Measuring your benefits and deciding what to do based on the results you get. How do you benefit from the learning? Have you met your goal (if not, what do you do now)? How do we stabilise the results to ensure they are sustained? Who do you share them with for greatest benefit?
Session 6: May be needed for completing any of the above stages. What next for Lean development in your organisation. How do you build on this experience to continue to derive value?
Leaders and managers in a Lean organisation become good coaches so they can get the very best from their people. This way they turn their whole organisation into problem-solvers with a focus on continuous improvement to deliver more customer value. If you do not already work this way then your coaching experience might start you on that journey.