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Protect the Process

By Steve Kane Updated on September 15th, 2016

protectThis article is a continuation of the series based on best practices from the Gemba Academy community.

Part 1: Don’t Let Perfect Get in the Way of Good

Part 2: Create a Learning Path


It’s easy to get consumed with KPIs and financial statements and use these to drive corrective actions or actions we think will be improvements.  The danger, though, is that this is like driving at high speed while looking in the rear view mirror.

Lagging indicators tell us how we have performed much like the mirror tells us where we’ve been.  If we don’t look through the windshield, we won’t know what dangers or opportunities lie ahead.

To really understand how we are performing and what our results will be, we must focus on the process.

Standardize the Process

Everything we do at work is part of a process that is part of a bigger system.  Whether formalized or not, it’s a process.  This ranges from how we start our work day, make coffee, check email, or create value for the customer.

Inconsistencies arise where we don’t stick doing things one way.  The problem is compounded when we have several people doing the same job different ways.

Strong lean organizations standardize all processes that impact the customer or the performance of the team.

Protect the Process

Everybody doing a given task the same way is the first step to improvement.  Rather than making policies that restrict autonomy, judgment, and creativity, we can establish a relationship between the associates and process.

Every person in the organization has the responsibility to protect the process.  (Consider making this the first bullet point of every job description).  This isn’t a matter of compliance.  It’s a matter of helping the customer be successful and helping the team be successful.

Improve the Process

Teams work together to identify where processes can be improved.  After all, the is a process for improving a process.  Big improvements are the result of many small improvements implemented incrementally over time.

Use the scientific method to quickly experiment with small improvement ideas.  If the experiment doesn’t go well, you can quickly and easily go back to the way things were.  This can be more difficult with major changes done at once.



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