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Auburn Technical Assistance Center (ATAC)

Leading a continuous improvement culture- Practical Leadership Tips

“We know what to do, but never seem to execute.”  These were the words of a senior leader just last week.  They have six teams working on A3 projects, meeting every Friday for progress reports.  Like many teams, their groups had high energy at the beginning and made good progress for a few weeks.  Then the daily panics took over and the teams lost momentum.

 

Their projects were typical manufacturing activities, driven by a real business need.  The team identified several major obstacles and created an action item list.  Each of these lists had owners, deliverables, and target dates.  Does this sound familiar to you?

 

Following the normal trajectory, the teams took off quickly, completing several action items before getting stalled.  If they could only get the other 27 items on the list, the project would be done.  Does this also sound familiar to you?

 

In Mike Rother’s Toyota Kata seminars, he uses a case study to highlight the execution failure of our current approaches.  Rother then discusses his research on how Toyota avoids this problem through rapid improvement cycles, concentrating on one action at a time, with the appropriate check process.  Using typical techniques, by the time you have changed the first few items on your punch list, the entire situation has changed.  Rapid plan-do-check cycles help you learn about the process through single-item experiments, resulting in consistent progress.

 

The challenge that most companies face is the lack of leadership involvement in the improvement process.  Using Toyota Kata techniques, leaders remain close to the improvement activities, coaching and training team members through successive experiments.

 

If you want to learn more about the Toyota Kata process, the Auburn Technical Assistance Center is hosting Mike Rother in a one-day seminar on July 17, 2012 in Athens, AL.  You will have the opportunity to hear directly from the researcher and author of the Toyota Kata book about this interesting management training technique.  If you are looking for the latest leadership training methods to drive your continuous improvement activities, come join us for this exciting seminar. 

 

For registration information, go to http://auburnworks.org/.

 

david

 

Key Words: Leadership training, continuous improvement, Management training, Toyota Kata

 

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