I had the pleasure of appearing on Mark Graban’s (www.leanblog.org) podcast about my book, Leadersights. Click below to listen or download.
Originally posted at https://www.leanblog.org/273
I was recently interviewed by Katie Anderson for her blog. The original interview about my book, Leadersights, was posted March 20, 2017 HERE.
I wouldn’t say that I had that burning ache to write. Despite wanting to be a ‘writer’, the task of writing was not especially appealing.
What compelled me to write was an intriguing observation by Michael Sinocchi of Productivity Press after I’d finished speaking at the Lean HR Summit that Lean Frontiers runs. This was a few years ago and the focus of the presentation was self-efficacy. Michael remarked that he hadn’t heard anyone else talking about this as a lean topic and would I consider writing a book about it.
That was, of course, music to my ears, and a few months later we had a contract. That’s not to say I’m not passionate about the contents of the book; I am. I firmly believe this is the power organizations need to sustain any change initiative.
There is no more powerful decision than Love. And the actions that follow that decision have consistently changed the world; in fact they’ve been the only things to change the world.
We’ve mistaken love as some soft emotional idea instead of one of the most demanding and difficult decisions we can make. The commitment to the development of people can only be consistently made with this decision as it’s foundation, otherwise it is only superficial.
As the true value of lean thinking requires the relentless focus on developing people, I think it’s love that is what enables the successful companies to sustain gains.
Rather than hide it behind “respect for people”, which seems to be the more acceptable term, I thought it suitable to shine the light on love instead.
The discoveries I’ve made in preparing for and in writing this book have forced me repeatedly to assess my own condition. I simply fall very short. I have learned at great cost that love is the foundation for great futures.
As I look back in reflection I’m distressed at how I behaved as a leader and I hope the soldiers and civilians for whom I worked never took true notice of my weakness as a leader.
Today, every engagement with a client, every challenge I can offer to others to take another step toward their potential reveals how much I still have left to learn. I gain so much more now that I’m looking to learn instead of looking to teach.
I try everyday to respect those I’m around but invariably fail. I have had a couple of good conversations with colleagues who assure me that my tendency to maintain control is completely disguised, but I struggle every day. But this struggle has taken me years to appreciate.
I love, learn, and let go as a journey with its daily challenges, and like most, I often let those struggles get in the way of better decisions.
The first action, or skill, is in building relationships. This ability to relate with others is perhaps the most prominent indicator of the purpose the leader brings to work. Building relationships requires human connection, eye to eye; hand to hand. Questions allow us to build a bridge to others, but only when they are driven by the heart.
That’s why it’s so important to build visual systems that show everyone the value they bring to work – through what we measure. If the measures take care of the work, then I don’t have to ask so much about the work and I can ask about the worker. The structure of the work itself allows me to behave differently as a leader and still have confidence that we’re moving in the right direction.
The second, though very much related to the first, is the ability to effectively challenge others.We use the word challenge very cavalierly (if that’s a word!).
In most instances when I hear someone challenge another the first response is to defend against the challenge; to fight back against this threat. And we talk in circles about how “healthy” it is, and yet the negative affect (with an A not an E) of an attack couched as a “challenge” has lasting detrimental effects (with an E not an A) on both participants.
We need to cultivate a new meaning for challenge. When we challenge our teams, it should be a positive experience. It should excite and motivate us to see how far we can go.
A challenge should always be viewed as positive. We should want to tackle a new challenge – one that tests our skills and abilities; one that resonates with our meaningful purpose in life and at work.
I think this would be that leaders are people, just like everyone else. As you dig through leadership books and lean books, most talk about all the things leaders have to do for their people, to their people, with their people. But everything we do for, to, and with our people, we ought to do for ourselves as well. We respond just like everyone else. We need higher self-efficacy as much as our people need higher self efficacy.
The other thing I have to mention is focusing on value instead of waste. We’ve gone years and years focusing on eliminating waste. We lower the water level to expose the waste. We’ve even named waste – TIM WOOD. Poor Tim. He sounds like a nice enough guy, why would we want to eliminate him? And in using this to teach everyone in all these organizations that waste comes as a human, subconsciously we’re telling them that we’re reducing heads and so little else comes through that it’s impossible to bring people fully on board.
If we focus on the value, the work that we do, and create systems that flow from this work, we’ll create ways to enhance the value and the waste will evaporate.
I’ve learned that I’m not as good as I should be. My confidence is high. My self-efficacy toward teaching lean is high. But my ability to build relationships and my patience for learning through failure both need serious improvement.
How do you make people want to come to work when the work we do is so boring, repetitious, stressful, etc.?
The answer is what I said earlier – focus on the value, not the waste1. Focus on what work really has to be done, then if it’s boring, break it into pieces and give different people several different pieces to work through every day for short intervals of time.
We have the best opportunity for this when we create standardized work. Too many people view creating standardized work as an activity to simply document the work we do. But creating standardized work with the people doing the work, allows us really to understand that work much more vividly, and to pluck out the valuable pieces and arrange them into work packages that allow people to work in teams and talk to each other, and help each other out. It’s a chance to change the work, not just capture the work.
We use this to set appropriate and positive challenges, to build skills through repetition and accountability for multiple pieces of work. We use this to build mastery, which builds self efficacy if we also keep the team together, build a role for a team coach to provide support and feedback, then give control of that work to the team you just created, so they will own it, and drive their own challenges.
-Originally posted at http://kbjanderson.com/interview-with-david-veech-reflections-on-his-new-book-leadersights-lean-his-personal-leadership-journey/
Tune in for my interview with Thomas Cox, creator of the podcast ‘Tom on Leadership’ originally posted on 6/5/2017
“For this episode of the Tom on Leadership podcast, I interviewed David Veech, author of the new book Leadersights, on his insights into how we can better create great Lean workplaces when we understand how adults learn.
This is an obvious idea — Lean experts all insist that Lean is really about creating learning organizations — yet I’ve never before encountered a Lean expert who had done the work to connect Lean with the principles of adult education.
That’s what makes his book so unique and helpful.”