Recently, I was at a corporate HR gathering of leaders from across the country. One of those leaders, Amanda, had been involved in a lean training with her local operations group. She had been in the process for 6 months and was sharing her update. We asked her to mostly share her experience of the process, with the specific project being more in the background.

I was so moved by her presentation.

Amanda shared how when she started she had picked a topic of something that was causing problems in the recruitment area. She was so pleased with herself that she could put the A3 form together based upon the instructions (hence the smiley face).

After that, she shared her work with her lean sensei, or mentor, and he showed her how her thinking had been premature and included a number of assumptions. She went back to the drawing board (shown as the sad face).

Amanda did more work. She changed the things her lean sensei had addressed and continued developing her material. When she went back to her sensei with the progress report, he showed her how again she hadn’t gotten to the real root cause of the situation (another sad face).

Amanda reminds all of us that there are times when lean work can make you feel excited and motivated to learn more about how to solve problems in a better way. Other times, however, it may be frustrating and discouraging when you need to redo your work, experiencing how jump-ing to conclusions and other bad habits get in the way of the work.

As Amanda shared her message that lean is truly an up and down process and hence we should “keep the faith,” there was a lot of similar sentiment in the room. That’s what the image above shows: the truly up and down process of this work.

As Amanda shared this with the group and many shared back their similar feelings, she felt really encouraged and ready to continue her work. She realized that she wasn’t alone. The group had a new appreciation that learning is not a completely upbeat process. By knowing this, it makes it easier to get over the humps and keep going.

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