Our Lean Journey continues at my organization. When I last blogged on this topic, our first Lean team had just completed the Current State Map of our Helpdesk System Value Stream Map. Since then we have also completed the Future State Map, identified a prioritized list of projects to get us from Current State to Future State, and presented our findings to our management team. Let’s dive a little deeper…

Our team started to go through the norming process after my last post. One of the observations I had was that honest collaboration was new to this group and it required a more extended “storming” period for the team to grow. There was a good deal of emotion fueled by a stream of negative energy. The team regrouped and set new ground rules that helped us become much more focused and positive. Due to a good deal of baggage being carried around, some team members continued to struggle with keeping an optimistic attitude about our ability to get our Lean ideas implemented.

Throughout this process, I continued my Lean readings, keeping up with Mark Grogan’s Lean Blog, and other sites. I started to focus more on the “Lean Thinking” and “Lean Culture” elements as opposed to the tools being proposed. Particularly, I talked to the team about PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) and not making better and best enemies. Boiled down, I emphasized that we need to communicate a desire to take action with the right intentions and being willing to learn from our mistakes. The resistance to taking action is entrenched in our fear-based culture and authoritative management structure. For the “ranks” to initiate meaningful change in this organization is a huge paradigm shift – for everyone involved. This contributed significantly to the pessimistic attitude adopted by some of the team.

Once we normed the team a bit, we moved through the Future State Map quite nicely. The result was wonderful and something for which the team is very proud. We used the list of projects we collected along the way as well as some new ones to help create a roadmap from Current State to Future State. We used a Benefit\Difficulty matrix to prioritize these projects. We then assigned benefit statements to each.

Finally, we prepared for a report out presentation to management. The goal being to “play catch” with our ideas. The presentation was postponed for a few weeks while our Corporate Lean Leader underwent back surgery. As a side note, and consistent with many of Mark Graban’s posts about lean hospitals, he shared his experience with the waste he saw as he moved through the hospital. Nurses having two-ways being interrupted every few minutes to attend to another call, never really completing the task at hand.

With our Corporate Lean Leader back, we presented our findings to management. Overall, the response from management to some of our more “aggressive” ideas (cube floor plan redesign, new customer service representative) was anticipated. Responses included statements like, “We did that 5 years ago and it didn’t work” or “That is not a best practice.” Ideally, I would have wanted the first words out of their mouths to be more like “that’s a really interesting idea” followed by questions to clarify the thinking behind the idea. I believe that will come over time.

The next step plan was for the management to take the list of ideas back and digest them as a group. They would then recommend a set of projects with which we could move forward. In a slight twist to this plan, our VP asked that our team select 3-4 projects based on some of the feedback we received, develop a implementation plan and start executing. This was well received on my part. My feeling at this point in the journey was that the ideas would flounder and die if tossed into the management cauldron.

So, the New Year presents our Lean Initiative with a very exciting challenge to continue to move forward, implement our ideas, learn from our mistakes and make things better.

Happy New Year everyone!