Lean PRojects

Good project management is really the coming together of the methods of kata and kaizen.  Typically, we are extremely reticent to use the Japanese terms associated with Lean process improvement.  However, there are, in our minds, no more core elements than:

Kata -- Routine behaviors, actions, and efforts.

 Kaizen -- Continuous improvement

If we left these concepts at that, we'd have done you a disservice.  Kata is part of the equation--the Improvement Kata, the Coaching Kata, the Problem Solving Kata, these aren't actions, these are not tools nor are they concepts--they are skills that are taught, acquired, applied, and developed.  

Kaizen isn't an activity, it is a culture, a leadership spirit that like other grand and vital elements like freedom, good, love aren't created out of wanting or divination or hiring a consultant.  They are developed, via the katas.  

When we consider what can go wrong, or right, with a project, so often leaders in a discipline or an organization are expected to manage projects, in addition to their "real jobs".  We have found after managing many millions of dollars of project funds that without establish your expectations around routine, and expecting each day to improve what didn't go well the day prior, from your perspective as customer, you can expect low value by any of the measures of value--money, time, quality, and/or satisfaction.  

Our Project Management Kata is a daily approach for kaizen:

• Planning and goal setting using SMART goals that inform

• Executing by those doing the work, providing real time feedback according to the plan  

• Controlling with measures of progress where kaizen drives kata to achieve the plan.   

If you do nothing else, always ask who is going to do what when and to what outcome.  If these answers can't be answered, your routine isn't routine and kaizen isn't possible.