An interview with TiB’s Stew Jane.


Stew has developed the TIB online coaching program which teams use as their shop floor guide to brilliance.


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What tools can we give a team to help them become more resilient?

One management technique we use is Go-Explore-Act. This has been developed in response to the observation that managers, supervisors and leaders at all levels often perceive and believe things that may not be reality. Let’s take an example we’ve seen so many times. A problem or situation becomes apparent, when we investigate, we find there have been many assumptions that have not been visually checked by the manager or supervisor against what is happening.

When we’ve gone and actually looked at the event or issue our eyes are often opened because we see things from a different perspective. We see shop floor reality is different than has been reported. This difference can be for a variety of reasons. (This discrepancy can be investigated later) We are most interested in fully understanding ‘reality’.

Go- Explore is essential to building resilience. The starting point must always be to get off your seat and take a long look at what is happening. This has been talked about for so long now. Tom Peters’s brilliant book ‘In Search of Excellence’ was published in 1982. He showed how great leaders walked the shop floor every day. We seem to rely on emails and reports these days and have forgotten these management practices that make companies brilliant..

Go to wherever you want to check for resilience. Focus on really understanding the situation. Dig deep. Talk to people. Explore. Seek to understand your people and the environments they’re operating in.

Of course, the final part is to Act. Take management action to improve the situation.

Resilience is about people’s ability to withstand challenges, be flexible, take action to bounce back.

We helped a Brewery to solve a quality problem. The leaders developed an understanding of the problem at a certain level. We found they were making assumptions about the solution, about how they were going to act based on reports and speculation.

When the leaders went to the brewery floor, talked with the people who were doing the job and worked hard to understand what they actually did, they quickly found solutions to the quality issues. The problem was evident almost immediately, which meant that the solution to the problem was able to be implemented immediately The Go- Explore process also had a positive effect on the brewery team who felt their managers were actually listening to them. They wanted to understand the problems they were having in maintaining quality and help them find the solution.

If you want to go from resilient to brilliant. How can Go-Explore-Act, help?

I would suggest that we should encourage people make Go-Explore-Act into a habit.

Anybody can be involved, but typically we would make it a habit for those in a management or supervisory role. However, if you are a worker on the shop floor and something’s happening that you feel will jeopardizing the product, there’s no reason why you can’t Go-Explore as much as a manager can.

When I’ve been into businesses, where a lot of people think they’re doing things perfectly. This is the time when brilliant organizations dig deeper. These team know improvements can always be made if they are going to be world beating. World-class team are always looking over their shoulder and know they won’t stay ahead unless they are continually seeking improvement. That’s what makes them world beaters.

The TIB online coaching program continually guides participating teams to create these habits. They quickly go from resilience to brilliance when using it in team meetings.

ACE tests to give teams the edge

There is a tool that we integrate within the Go- Explore – Act which can help teams make massive improvements. We call it the ACE tool.

Appropriate test

Firstly, we try to understand if what we’re doing is doing Appropriate. The analogy I use to define appropriate is, we don’t want to use a ‘hammer to crack a nut’, we’re using the right amount of effort.

Are we using the appropriate tools? For example, not having a massive, complicated spread sheet to do a simple calculation. Ensure we’re using the appropriate tool for that particular task.

Credibility test

The second test: is this solution Credibility. If you look in the dictionary definition of credibility, related words and phrases include: are reliable, something that can be relied upon, it can be trusted, it’s believable. Ask the question, is this solution credible?

Engagement test

The third test: is this engaging? We need to check for that. This ensures we involve everyone in what we’re doing, whether it be planning, checking requirements, or running a project, whatever it is. Have we involved the right people.?.

An example from working with a team in an engineering company. The team leader had been asked to develop a project plan. The team was asked to assess the plan from their viewpoint against ACE -appropriate, credible. engagement.

Team members gave a score 1 -10 against each test.

Within five minutes they achieved valuable input assessing whether in their experience the plan was good enough. There were some shortcomings the team had spotted. Easily rectified before any expense had been incurred.

When you do this process as the engineering company team did, if your team does not give the feedback that your plan is appropriate, credible and engaging then they do not believe the plan will give them the results you hoped for. You get a litmus test of how good the plan is? If teams scored low on a specific test, then you can take action to make improvements.

If, for example, the engagement feedback was low, then what does this indicate? Ask who needs to be better engaged? Identify the issue and bridge the gap

.If you have seven people in your team and six of them give a high ACE score but the seventh colleagues score is noticeably lower. Then it’s probably going to tell you two things. It means that person doesn’t believe in the quality of the plan, which is fair enough. But interestingly, it might also indicate that your colleague has been disengaged from the team. There may a morale issue or certainly something they feel is wrong. This highlights that something needs to be addressed to ensure they are a fully functioning member of the team.

We find brilliant teams have the ACE habit

These tools, Go-Explore-Act and ACE tell you what your team is doing is both LEAN and it stands scrutiny. In our experience this happens in the best businesses. It can easily be adopted by any team, in any industry to achieve resilience and then move towards brilliance.


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