Principle of War #12 – Explotation

Exploitation: Follow up and follow through
Many of us who have led or facilitated Kaizen events experienced the situation where the follow up action items were not implemented and objectives were not met. This is frustrating for team members and can lead to leadership thinking “This Lean Six Sigma stuff doesn’t work.” What actually happened is the principle of exploitation was violated.
Most Lean Six Sigma professionals out there would agree sustainment and follow through are the greatest challenges facing Kaizen teams. Kaizen events are full of energy and team members typically enjoy being part of them, it is the following weeks that old habits re-emerge. The research shows in order to develop a new habit people have to complete 21 iterations – meaning success can only be claimed roughly 4 weeks after Kaizen event ends. This is a critical time for the solutions to take hold, effort is required.
We have various tools to help with full implementation and exploitation. These include action plans, leadership audits, control charts, metrics, and continuous improvement. Often we use multiple tools to ensure the objective is met and sustained. However, the primary reason results sustain is the Kaizen Champion (Leader) cares and shows they care by performing an audit (Inspect what you expect). Without genuine leadership facilitators end up trying force changes, much like pushing a rope.
Follow up vigorously on a break-through once it’s achieved.