Lean Assessments Are Not for the Faint of Heart

Last week, a few of my counterparts and I completed our first deep dive lean assessment of an organization within our company.  Overall, it went pretty well.  We got most of the logistics right and divided the work up appropriately and even scheduled just about the appropriate amount of time with each group.

There was plenty I was not prepared for though.  Most of all was the energy drain.  I have always enjoyed learning what others are doing and have been on quite a few benchmark trips, but taking a specific focus and drilling deep into it was mentally exhausting.  I slept like a rock after the assessment was over.

We also had to spend more time than I thought reassuring people this was not a test or an audit.  The assessment results were to be used to help them improve or thrown away.  Their choice.  No skin off our back except the time to prep, conduct and wrap up the assessment.  People were convinced it was to evaluate their job performance.

I took pages upon pages of notes in order to remind me of things when I had to go back and score the assessment topic.  As simple as it sounds, it took several hours for our team to score all 27 topics and provide feedback as to why we scored it what we did and opportunities and good things for each topic.

This leadership group was very eager to have the assessment done and I believe will use it properly to help them improve, not rank and stack.  The report out went very well and I will be interested to see what they use from our feedback as well as feedback from them on how we can improve our assessment process.

It was a lot of work, but done properly I believe it will help the organization continue to move forward with their lean implementation.

Posted on October 14, 2011, in Culture, Development, Engagment, Learning, Tools and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Matt,

    I also find the human factor in Lean activity can be very draining. Whenever I lead an improvement event, trying to keep everyone positive and on the right track simply zaps my energy level sometimes. After some events it has been difficult to keep my eyes open even to drive home.

    I think this is because of the passion that we have for continuous improvement. We want to see things move forward. When doing an audit or assessment, people think we are just itching to find something wrong. For me, findings are a disappointment which adds to the drain, especially if it is evident that, regardless of how much I have tried to help people see what Lean is and can do for them, they just don’t seem to get it.


    • Dale, you are right. Improvement events can be very draining as well. Trying to get everyone to move and improve can be exhausting. It is not easy work trying to get people to change and as a lean change agent we go into it everyday knowing it will be a battle, but on the days when something great happens, a light bulb goes off in someone’s head, it is extremely rewarding.

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