Building Team Capability through Discussion

In this article I discuss the importance of ongoing discussion following training events to really build team capability.

The Training Room

I regularly provide Lean Six Sigma training to organisations, both in person and online, and I really enjoy sharing the concepts and methods with the participants, and having interesting dialogue about how to apply this new knowledge in the working environment.

However, it’s important to remember that when the training events are complete, the learning has only just begun. The real learning happens where the work is being done, as teams try to apply the what they learned in the training room to the work they are trying to improve.

Make time for discussion

In my opinion, the most important part of successful implementation of new learning is the ongoing discussion between team members about how best to apply the learning to their specific situation. New systems need to be developed and they need to be tested. Most of these new systems will not work well first time round and will need to be adapted and approved. If teams do not have a forum or time to discuss the challenges and possible solutions, they will struggle to make successful changes and they may in fact move back to the old familiar way of working. At this point all the effort (and expense) of providing good training is lost, and the mindset shifts to “that will never work here!”

Making time to discuss new systems and methods means team leaders  and managers need to build the conversation into regular team meetings, and encourage ad-hoc discussions where challenges and ideas can be reviewed. Team members must be empowered to challenge what was learned in training and encouraged to find ways to adapt the knowledge to the unique situation that each organisation and each department within an organisation faces.

Incremental Improvement

Another important element in building team capability is to be willing to make small changes, see how they work, and adjust them if they don’t. Often when people learn about Lean Thinking they picture the end state and feel that they need to get there as soon as possible. The reality is that Lean is a journey of continuous improvement, learning, trying, and adjusting, but always moving forward in incremental steps.

Key message

Feed your teams with new knowledge and ideas whenever you can, listen to your teams as they apply, allow them to adjust, and support them as they learn. Make time to learn, discuss, and take incremental steps forward towards the goal of becoming more Lean every day.

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