Wednesday, 31 January 2018

The unwritten qualitities of a lean practitioner

Over the past few months we’ve been reviewing the skill set within the Process Improvement Unit: looking at opportunities for future roles and ways to continuously improve our own skill sets. As part
of this review process we identified a number of key characteristics and qualities that may not always appear on the Job Description. I thought I’d share a few of my ideas with you:

·      A deep appreciation for Post-it© notes and a willingness to use them often. An allergy or dislike of these key tools of the trade would be highly problematic.
·      An ability to deal with challenges to personal credibility. To demonstrate deep knowledge and understanding of the fundamental facet of the continuous improvement profession.
·      Ability to challenge people who demonstrate a lack of understanding/ appreciation of the Process Improvement skillset; showing use of a breadth of process improvement tools and techniques (it’s more than just process mapping).
·      Deal with rejection with professionalism and resilience – it is likely to happen on a regular basis!
·      Not take credit for other people’s improvements, when team’s make changes they should be given the recognition for the improvements
·      Be prepared to be amazed and overwhelmed at people’s capacity to implement changes, some team’s quickly grasp the concepts and are prepared to swiftly implement improvements. This can be emotional.
·      Manage one’s frustration with people who block and/or fear change and reflect on your own practice. Change blockers are a well-researched concept; it is inevitable that we will come across these individuals. As a change practitioner getting frustrated with the blockers is generally unhelpful, instead we should be prepared to reflect on our own practice – what could we do differently next time?
·      Know when to walk away from/ close a project– even if you can see further improvements, the team needs to own the changes and be willing to implement further improvements. If they are not willing, recognise that you are a valuable resource who could be helping others.
·      Embody respect for people: demonstrate inter-team working; sincere communication and inclusivity; alongside a high regard for people’s expertise.

It is a privilege to work in process improvement, helping people find the space and the concepts that address their problems and add value to our stakeholders is truly rewarding. My ideal practitioner would demonstrate all of the above and when times get hard I know that we can call on our #leanhe colleagues who always have wise words and find time to help a fellow practitioner continuously improve.

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