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Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Three Most Important Questions in a Continuous Improvement Culture

A few weeks back John Knott’s wrote a post about 3 magical metrics within a continuous improvement culture. He said the three things that you need to measure are: 1) How much work you are doing, 2) How long it takes to do it every time, and 3) How well you do it every time. Similarly, this made me think of the three magical questions a leader should ask in a continuous improvement culture.

The ability of leaders to ask the right questions is critical to the success of a lean culture. The type of questions will determine the quality of process improvements. If leaders do not know what to look for, teams would get the message that they can get away with whatever is possible.

All management should learn to ask these three simple questions:

       1) What is the process?

       2) How can you tell it is working?

       3) What are you doing to improve it (if it is working)?

Nothing sustains itself, certainly not Lean manufacturing or management. So, establish and stick to a routine including regular visits to the Gemba, check the status of visual controls, follow-up on daily accountability assignments, and ask the three simple questions everywhere. Lean management is, as much as anything, a way of thinking.

Guide by asking questions, not by telling grown up people what to do. People generally know the right answers if they have the opportunity to produce them.

When an employee brings you a problem to solve, ask, "what do you think you should do to solve this problem?" Or, ask, "what action steps do you recommend?" Employees can demonstrate what they know and grow in the process.

If you don't ask the right questions, you won't get the right answers. A question asked in the right way often points to its own answer.

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