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How to begin #Lean coaching using #SolutionFocus and Motivational Interviewing (#1 in Series)

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This article is #1 in a Series where I investigate the use of Solution Focus and Motivational Interviewing to coach CEOs into starting their Lean initiative. Other articles will follow, feel free to comment!

2% of Lean transformation are successful. That means that 98% of Lean transformations fail (Google search).

Can you believe it? From an approach that stresses reflection (or hanseï), it’s more than surprising that almost nobody’s looking for other ways to introduce Lean. I mean something that works better!

Actually, there are some people, for instance on the Strength-Based Lean Six Sigma LinkedIn group, but we’re few.

I would like here to express my ideas about introducing Lean differently to top management (or maybe other lower management levels) using Solution Focus and Motivational Interviewing.

Who needs to change?

It’s no news that most change initiatives fail because of lack of CEO involvement. Or so this is what change consultants say. but what did the consultant do to involve the CEO in the first place? Of course, CEO are most used to directing others and hiring consultants to do the work on their behalf or on behalf of their own employees.

Yet, given the long trail of past consultants having worked in any company, one can wonder how making more of the same is supposed to be different?

So, I’m a firm believer that the first step of any Lean consultant is to assume the position of a coach and work with/on the CEO to:

  • identify what works in this organization to achieve changes (Solution Focus approach)
  • make the CEO to realize that he’s the one that needs changing and help him commit to that change (Motivational Interviewing approach).

Of course, there are other side effects of having the CEO do the work himself:

  • time invested in Lean is not time invested in other projects that would take time of employees out of Lean
  • by showing up on the workplace (the gemba), people will stop what they’re doing and start doing Lean instead
  • by doing Lean himself, the CEO will learn Lean himself (constructionism taking place here, what is better known as “learning by doing” which is far more effective than learning by viewing slides)

The SF way to change: P>C>O

The Solution Focus way of change is summarized in the formula “P>C>O” which stands for Problem > Change needed > Outcome. I’ve mentioned this already here. The tactics are to:

  1. first make the client acknowledge that there is a Problem
  2. then, empathically suggest that there may be a need for Change
  3. and then asking what the Outcome is (in SF, we talk of a platform)

What’s important here for me is that the context is as important as the questions above. Indeed, the client is already talking with a potential coach thereby implying that there is a problem. So the first question, despite being a bit rhetoric, is mainly useful for making the client talk about his situation and to have him express his view of it.

The second question start the process of making the client talk about the needed change and thus probes his place on the stages of change.

The third question is a way to build the platform (move to more positive talk) and also a way for the coach to understand what kind of vision the client has in mind for his Lean implementation. Obviously, the coach has a rather clear vision of what Lean could mean for that kind of organization, but the CEO’s vision is more important with respect to this. Where too much of a discrepancy would exist between mainstream Lean and the CEO’s vision, the coach could probe for that discrepancy.

The MI way of change: DARN-C

In Motivational Interviewing, the coach monitors the client’s moves on the stages of change by looking for and eliciting DARN-C talk:

  • Desire for change
  • Ability to change
  • Reason for changing
  • Need for change
  • and Commitment to change

In the following articles of the Series, I will be investigating specific SF and MI-like questions for a Lean coach to ask his client in order to move him from precontemplation stage up to action and maintenance stage, including management of any relapse that may occur.

Warning: this is untested stuff (as of date of writing this). Any reader experimenting with all or part of this is encouraged to share his experiences in comments of the corresponding articles.

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