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Team Close, time to hold the gains 

Assuming that you have been running the team for 12 weeks, we are now in week 12 and it is time to close the team. I always recommend that you will aim to close the team at 12 weeks even though you are not ready. My thinking behind that is that if you have a target to close after 12 weeks we should try to close, and if we cannot we should learn from the reason why we did not close. 

Whatever the reason could be, the objectives or the scope is too big, could not take the time or using people that went on vacation, had to change the team leader, or technical difficulties, or we could not agree on the team, whichever happened we should learn from that. However, let us assume that we are ready to close the team at 12 weeks. For a company, I always recommended that you create a closing checklist to ensure that every improvement team that you build follows the same approach. There are some key points to closing a team, these include: 

For all phases, Basic Conditions, Improve and Innovate, the PDCA is relevant and the full PDCA cycle has to be worked through for a phase to be completed. Not all improvement teams will go through all three phases. You need to decide that when you start, whichever phase that you are in that you decided to close at has to have the PDCA steps closed before you can close the team. 

A key part of closing a team is to make sure that we have standards, one point lessons, or standard operating procedures done. There also must be training for the team itself, an internal training matrix captures the training that should be done for any team. Also for the external people, the people who are now going to be effected by the new way of working that the team has implemented. So, a training matrix for internal and external people is needed. You will also need to have a performance indicator. The performance indicator could be the one that you have been using along the way for the team, and that indicators role is to say let us follow this indicator for 26 weeks is a good rule of thumb. It should stay within control limits, so if the indicator is within the control limits for 26 weeks we can consider the gains to be held and we do not need to keep following that KPI or performance indictor anymore.

 When choosing the performance indictor, you will need to have some type of criteria. For example, if the performance indicator is outside of the control limit for 3 consecutive weeks. The team leader has to be called back and huddle up with the team again to understand what happened, and to try and understand why we do not hold the gains. What are the reasons and see if we can get back on track again.

 Other than that, when you close the team you also have to consider auditing the new way of working that you implemented. Let’s say that you have created a new type of process it could be around a machine to clean, inspect, lubricate and tighten the equipment. You need to implement some type of CILT standard that can be used and a manager of that area, who is accountable of the work in that area, can audit to ensure that the standard is followed. If you are working in a business process or administration area of some sort you might want to consider other types of process standards, process reliability standards, where you would look at key components to the process, to ensure that the standard is being followed. Remember, that the line manager is the person that is accountable for the area or the process. They are the ones that should be auditing the process apart from following performance indicators. 

It is recommended to have some type of visual system that controls the output of the team. What I mean by that is when the team is closed and the team board is taken down, you need to keep on following the performance indicators and following standards and so on. Therefore, it is recommended that you use a machine boards where you can keep documentations close to the machine area where you have performed your improvements, or a process board if you are working in the business process area. This machine board or process board can contain different types of information but they should contain the performance indicator, the criteria for calling back the team. The audits that are performed in the process, also an audit of the actual board and audit schedules and so on. Often one point lessons are on the same board together with any uncompleted tasks from the team, so they are controlled after the team is closed. It is recommended to try to close all outstanding tasks while the team is running, but sometimes we may run into situations where we cannot close everything. For example: we can have a maintenance task or an IT task or something that will take a bit more time, you might want to control that on a process or machine board.

Remember that when the team has achieved the target and you close the team, you have a chance to celebrate, discuss lessons learned and enjoy the fact that you achieved something good together. This will help you in the future to run teams and get people engaged, doing this it will mean you won’t need to put so much time and energy into the next project. 

 

Because when it’s fun it’s easier for everyone, for you as a team leader but also for the team members. It’s important to ensure that the receiver of the new standards and the owner of the machine board and process board is established and that there is a hand off to that person when the team is closed

If you look at how much energy you need to put into any change, 20% of the energy is to find the problems and eradicate them, and 80% is toward all the gains so the closing and the delivery of the performance indicators is vital. The audits and so on are not to be taken lightly because this is where it is easiest to fail. The focus is gone from the improvement area where people have celebrated, where no one will follow up nor care if the standards that we are supposed to work towards are not happening. It only takes a couple of times where someone is breaking those standards without anybody reacting to it before old habits come back again. However, it is all about creating good processes, a good process of holding the gains will ensure that you do not fall back to the old behaviours and the closing part is key to hand over to that process.

Johan Majlov, CEO Lean Dimensions International

LetsDoIt@askldi.com                                      

It’s a wrap

Taking Charge of Your Change

What’s your state of mind right now? Do you think about that to adjust it to the most helpful mind-set or does it just happen to you?

There are obviously different people in the world and to make my life simpler, or at least simpler to explain, I divided them in to two categories.

One is the person who let the world outside of them affect them and how they feel and act. They are in Effect, effected by the surroundings which is to blame for how they feel right now. If others are happy I’m happy too, for example.

The other is a person who controls their own state of mind and decide how they want to feel and act. They are in Cause. They make things happen and take responsibility for what the world around them should be like. Being in Cause is a better fit for a leader.

What mind-set do they have?

First let me say that the whole concept is built on the idea that you can choose how you feel. “You make me so upset” in this concept it’s not technically correct, but you could say “What you did made me choose to be upset”. You can decide how you do want to feel and not everyone would feel the same as you for every given situation, it’s an individual choice.

There are no models that are perfectly correct but some are useful. This is a model that isn’t easy to accept for everyone and I understand that, however if you want to be in Cause, I find this to be a useful model.

What does that mind-set scale look like?

There are many ways to explain it and I have chosen to explain the two ends of the scale. The state you are in, especially if you lead others, affects them and might be the difference that makes the difference in achieving the targeted outcome in your communication.

Crash state.

In this state, you have a tunnel vision, you don’t notice much outside of yourself. Typically, during communications, you will wait for the other person to stop talking so you can say what you know is right. You don’t hear what the person is saying, you wait for them to stop talking. A person in Crash can be perceived to be threatening or aggressive. This is a very effective state if your life is threatened, like during a fire, an active shooter etc. it is however not very effective while communicating, it’s worthless for that type of activity.

Coach state.

In this state, you have a wide peripheral vision. You can see the other person’s body language. You can notice what they say and how they say it. You have a statement in your mind “I don’t know, but I’m eager to find out”. Communicating with a person in Coach state is easy and not threatening. The person in Coach state seems to be very interested and present. Very effective for communication, coaching and cooperation of any kind.

Example.

A couple who lives together meets after a working day, one of them wants to talk about the day, what happened, problems and how that felt etc. The other person, who has heard this before (at least, think so) crashes and starts to give advice about what to do to solve these problems. The first person says “You never listen to me” the other person replies “What do you mean I’m even giving you advice what to do”…the first person didn’t want advice but just wanted to talk, to vent and feel that somebody listened. A very stressful situation for both and not very helpful for a nice evening with the one you love.

I often ask people to try this: Next time you meet, maybe tonight, try to make sure you are in coach state. Make sure you have a peripheral vision, breath out longer than yo breath in and pay attention to the other person. Feel your feet to the floor and notice your breathing. Listen to the words, notice the facial expressions, notice the body language and keep the “I don’t know” thought in your mind. Ask to understand more. People who try this always come back and say “Last night was the best night I had in a very long time” they talk and connect and have meaningful time together. I even had people crying while giving me the feedback, it’s very powerful and learning how to master yourself in this area opens so much possibilities and gives you a much richer life with good interactions.

Choosing your state means that you can choose to be happy for no reason at all just because you want to. There’s no need to connect your happiness with an object, a person or a circumstance. You can be happy just like that, because you choose to. Try it, smile to the world and notice the reaction you get and how good it feels.

As a leader in change you need to learn how to lead yourself, before you lead others. Self-mastery is a long journey but worth taking.

Please let me know if you recognize this and find it helpful to learn more about this basic leadership skill, write to me at:

Johan Majlov, CEO Lean Dimensions International

LetsDoIt@askldi.com

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