1st Edition

Facilitating Rapid Process Improvement Workshops The Self-Study Guide for Lean Leaders

By Sheilah O'Brien Copyright 2021
    234 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    234 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    234 Pages 50 B/W Illustrations
    by Productivity Press

    This is a self-study guide for facilitators of rapid process improvement workshops that helps anyone who feels like they aren’t truly gaining the full results of improvement initiatives and kaizen events. They know they can do better, but don’t know how. The author, an experienced facilitator in government and nonprofits, speaks to the facilitator through coaching notes and actual workshop documents and techniques so the reader can fully understand how greater results are achieved. This guide takes the reader through a step-by-step path of a newly created workshop agenda. The author has parsed the workshop path into more manageable parts, easier for both the facilitator and the team. These parts split the improvement work into two sections: "removing the unnecessary" and "smoothing out the flow." "Smoothing out the flow" is divided further into:

    • When the work is coming in
    • When the product/person is going through the process
    • How the work is performed

    In addition, the author includes newly created tools and training content. For example, a data-gathering table points the facilitator to what data need to be collected when. Training for the team includes making sure they understand the structure of a process as well as to instruct them and define how a Lean process actually functions. This distinction is important because all improvements are not necessarily Lean improvements.

    Several bodies of knowledge are incorporated into this guide––not only Lean and Six Sigma, but internal auditing, organizational development, and statistics.

    Essentially, this guide includes tips, nuances, and original tools that are missing from the traditional training of facilitators of kaizen events. It provides enough information for the facilitator to think in a creative way.

    Table of Contents



    CHAPTER 1. Laying the foundation

    • Welcome and team introductions
    • Sponsor expectations
    • How the Rapid Process Improvement (RPI) came about
    • Background and charter
    • Ground rules and decision-making
    • Administrative tasks
    • Data collection methods
    • The Art of Facilitation: review each day
    • Appendix 1
    • References

    CHAPTER 2. Understand the current state

    • Walk through the actual place of work to grasp the big picture
    • The second walk-through: the specific process to be improved
    • Analysis of data, observations from walk-through
    • Backlog
    • Revise preliminary flowchart
    • List of facilitation deliverables
    • Appendix 2

    CHAPTER 3. Improve: clean up the current process

    • Preparation for step-by-step exercise
    • Conduct step-by-step exercise: explain the tool
    • Review root cause analysis tools
    • The workshop could stop here…
    • List of facilitation deliverables
    • The Art of Facilitation: what is value?
    • Appendix 3



    CHAPTER 4. Pause: workshop quality check

    • Why the pause?
    • Review accomplishments and learnings
    • Revisit the charter and change if necessary
    • Preparing for next level of improvements: the new Pathway Model
    • List of facilitation deliverables
    • The Art of Facilitation: balance three things at once
    • Appendix 4

    CHAPTER 5. Smooth out the flow: improve the process when the work comes in

    • Prep work: understand current state of "input"
    • Data collection background/information
    • Kinds of products/services background/information
    • Controlling/distributing work background/information
    • Points of entry background/information
    • List of facilitation deliverables
    • The Art of Facilitation: work with your data
    • Appendix 5

    CHAPTER 6. Smooth out the flow: improve the work as it goes through the process

    • Minimize batching
    • Introduce error-proofing
    • Push or pull and Kanban
    • Takt time and balancing the workload
    • List of facilitation deliverables
    • The Art of Facilitation: takt time may not be our time
    • Appendix 6

    CHAPTER 7. Smooth out the flow: improve how the work is performed

    • Why bother with standardization? What is it?
    • How do you put standardization in place?
    • Show me how to do it: facilitation case study from Self-Sufficiency RPI
    • List of facilitation deliverables
    • The Art of Facilitation: knowledge workers (professional bureaucracy)
    • Appendix 7


    CHAPTER 8. Smooth out the flow: improve the process supports

    • Mini-lecture: overview of Supports
    • Materials
    • Environment
    • Equipment
    • List of facilitation deliverables
    • Appendix 8

    CHAPTER 9. Pause: putting it all together

    • Gather all information pertaining to a future improved state
    • Gather Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) forms and sort improvement ideas
    • Develop pilot tests and recommendations
    • Develop an Impact/Difficulty Matrix
    • Prepare supporting documentation for report-out
    • Facilitator develops a draft presentation outline
    • List of facilitation deliverables
    • The Art of Facilitation: unions
    • Appendix 9

    CHAPTER 10. Report, implementation tracking, and continuous improvement

    • Part 1. Report: oral report out, written report, and dissemination
    • Prepare the final presentation outline
    • Presentation rehearsal
    • Oral report out
    • Written report and dissemination
    • List of facilitation deliverables
    • Appendix 10, Part 1
    • Part 2. Tracking system and continuous improvement
    • Develop tracking system for implementation
    • Establish a continuous improvement system
    • Identify logical, intact work groups
    • Training
    • List of facilitation deliverables
    • Appendix 10, Part 2

    CHAPTER 11. The end of the story



    Paddy Sheilah O’Brien has an MPA from Cornell University, a BA from Pitzer College and is certified in Lean, project management, and communications. She was instrumental in pioneering Lean in many state government services, ranging from child adoptions, the motor pool, and the revenue department. She also extended her technical assistance to the non-profit providers in 33 counties. Her real contribution is sharing ‘lessons learned’ from running over 24 rapid process improvement events. Her recipe for success: stick to the original intent of kaizen and believe that frontline workers know the problems best. With the right tools and guidance, they can solve them. O’Brien has learned from the best consultants, taken all the professional courses, and collected research from multiple Lean databases. But out of all these resources, she states there are many gaps for the practitioner. In here recent book, Lean for the Nonprofit: What You Don’t Know Can Cost You, she has filled them in with her well-thought out connections between technique, experience in developing workshops, and calling out what historical management innovators have already given us. Her career, both in the private and public sectors, is a tapestry of different kinds of knowledge and skills. For instance, as a former internal auditor, she brings the importance of internal controls. As a practitioner in organizational development, she brings knowing the stages of team development to facilitation skills. With her program evaluation experience in collecting data, she created a list of simple tools easily taught to any staff member of improvement teams. And being an associate in project management helped in preparing, facilitating, and closing out an improvement event. O’Brien has presented at national conferences, been the recipient of multiple awards, and has developed and delivered multiple courses on Lean, performance measures, and quality tools. She has recently taken leave of full-time state employment to embark on a second career of being an author and lecturer.