What you can, Where you can

In my review of Toyota Kata by Mike Rother, I suggested that the staff-level practitioners who are embedded in almost every company that is “implementing lean” could put those practices to work immediately, even if it was not an ideal “top down” teaching process.

This week I gave that a try.

I was coaching a workshop leader who was, in turn, leading the team I mentioned earlier. He was simultaneously reading the book, I referred him to “the coaching questions” on page 247 and we worked together to keep asking them as the team was doing its work.

Since the team was working to solve problems that were blocking the problem solving process, it got a little complicated to keep them focused on the right “immediate problem.” However what I observed, for sure, was that my workshop leader’s skills improved significantly as the week went on, as did the team’s understanding of the issues and countermeasures.

My working theory was that just asking the questions puts someone into “teaching mode” and, as I have said earlier, the best way to learn is to try to teach.

Was this the ideal approach advocated by Mike Rother? Nope. I will have to loop back and catch some of the foundational elements. But as I have experienced in the past, these practices are so powerful that even trying and awkward application gets significantly better results than following no structure at all.

Start asking the questions, and see what you can learn as you try to teach.

One Reply to “What you can, Where you can”

  1. I learned a key lesson in life when someone told me in college to learn as if I was going to have to teach it.

    You work a lot harder to understand something if you know you will be tasked to help others learn.

    Great post. I can’t wait to read Toyota Kata.

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