With an OK for our plan, we set out to set up a meeting room for continuous improvement, right away. The room was to be on the workfloor of the Firm and the first goal of the Firm’s Management Team was to visually emphasize the fact that Continuous Improvement had become a core element of operations. Lean being very much about visual communication, I eagerly embraced the suggestion and claimed one of the rooms.
I took away all the paper work that was hanging on the wall: Paperwork with clearly no owner and lots of outdated data. Instead, I took a roll of masking tape and with that I drew three matrices on the walls: Two for active improvement projects and one for a list of projects in progress.
I printed coloured labels for the boards to monitor progress on improvement projects:
One of the boards got the label “Continuous improvement”. Then I placed paper cards with all ideas for improvement that had emerged during the Teambuilding sessions. To do so, I first entered them in Waypoint as User Stories, and then I used Waypoints’ great Bulk Actions / Print Card functionality. By the way, this proved to be a little less easy than I wanted. There seemed to be no multifunctional printer around, at least no one able to print my pdf file on small cards. All printers were loaded with various tastes of A4 and A3 paper, but they were not equipped to handle small cards. The small cards by contrast, were lying in abundance in every office stock shelve in the office. So, I had to print them, using my own printer at home. Through my own desktop computer, that is. The company laptop wouldn’t allow to make a connection to unknown printers. The next day, I decided to visit the Firm’s print shop and to see whether they would be able to quickly process print orders for cards. Which they kindly said they would. But it doesn’t feel great yet. I want to be able to print cards at once, whenever I the project board needs to be redone.
Minutes after the cards hung randomly at the Backlog column of the Continuous Improvement Board, one of the managers came to me and asked if we could prioritize all these ideas. I readily accepted to facilitate that exercise, especially because I really like to go with the flow and to follow ideas brought up by the team. So, a couple of days later, I invited a few random people to come over, along with this manager, and to rate the Story Cards as HIGH, MEDIUM or LOW priorities. High priorities are ideas which are easily implemented and promise great results (low hanging fruit), lows are ideas which are hard to implement and don’t promise too many benefits and Mediums are the rest of the lot. I didn’t call them User Stories yet. First because they weren’t in the User Story format, and second, because I hadn’t explained that logic to the team yet.
Not a Kata yet…
Nevertheless, I’m not too happy yet. For this looks very much like a fine shopping list of irritations which people have brought up and thrown over the wall -for me, the continuous improvement manager, to solve-. And hey, that’s not what Lean & Agile is about. Or the Toyota Kata…
So, I really need to introduce the weekly review and improvement process in all projects. I added the two first projects to be picked up by the JV to the Progress cell of the other List of Projects Board, leaving the rest in the Backlog column. And I left the other Project Board empty for the moment. First we need to pick one major Theme to become an improvement project. To select such a major Theme, I prefer to first do a Value Stream Mapping exercise. Which is what I announced to pick up next.
This blog is part of my LAPM Implementation Journal: