Beyond ‘Lean’… Personal, Human, Caring Connections! Reflections on ELEC2017

Last week I had the joy of speaking and giving a workshop at ELEC2017 in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The majority of attendees were from different countries across Europe and spoke many different languages. Hearing people speak in so many diverse languages reminded me of when, in my late twenties, I spent the year living in Taiwan. During that year, I met students from across Europe, all who could speak not only the language of their home country, the languages of their neighboring countries, and English…but were, as well, working on learning to speak Mandarin Chinese! What struck me then – and again at ELEC2017 – was how being able to speak and understand a common language creates connection and community!

Listening carefully to the community of coaches, practitioners and educators gathered together at ELEC2017, I heard a common thread among the different voices and different languages. And that thread had to do with a concern about the future. The future of what we now call “lean”. Was “lean” failing? Was “lean” simply being misunderstood and misinterpreted? Was “lean” going to last? And, what was “lean” anyway? Were we all using the same definition? Were we sure?

Which brings me to the main topic of this reflection.

Being at ELEC2017 solidified my feeling that we, as a group of human beings, the “lean” community included, are at a crossroads, a junction. A time to redefine what is really important, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there. And at that junction, thinking carefully about the words we use, whatever language we speak, is extremely important, because, in many ways, words create the world.

What different type of world would be created if we used the world ‘people’ to refer to those who purchase our products and services, instead of customers? Or if we used the words like ‘team-members’ instead of ‘human resources’ to refer to those who serve them? If we used organic words like “grow”, “blossom”, “develop”, instead of mechanistic words like “move the needle”, “target”, and “drive”?

During the panel discussion on the future of “lean” we created a ‘cloud’ of words that we felt would be most impactful as we, in the “lean” community look to the future. Words that stood out were:

  • Purpose
  • Coaching
  • Creativity
  • Leadership
  • Respect

Words that reference the ‘human’ side of the work that we do.

At the conference, I handed out my ‘Love and Kindness’ buttons. Everywhere I go, I leave these buttons, along with small slips of paper saying things like, ‘practice kindness’ and ‘practice love’ and ‘plant kindness, grow love’. The buttons are reminders that no matter who we are, what we believe, or what language we speak, if we treat each other with love and kindness, then the world will turn out fine! Professor Jannes Slomp, who organized the conference, said that they are the start of a movement.

And I agree. They are a start of a movement. The movement beyond “lean”. Beyond “lean” as a set of tools, often with an association (right or wrong) for cost-cutting and eliminating people. A movement to create ways of working together that aren’t just about being efficient and effective, but are human, caring, kind and compassionate. A movement for businesses not just to generate short-term profits, but to create long-term solutions to real-world problems such as poverty, homelessness, hunger, discrimination and the environment.

For all of you who were at the conference (and all of you who weren’t) here is my question:

What shall we call this new way of working, this new way of creating? What word (or words) should we use to describe this new movement? Because words matter! As I said earlier, they create the world we all are going to live in now and for the future.

Love, kindness, creativity, caring and compassion. We can have them in the world of business too! It’s the movement I’m starting. And I’m looking forward to having you join and to seeing what we can create together!

ELEC2017 was an absolutely wonderful gathering!

Thanks to all the organizers, participants and speakers! It was a joy and pleasure to meet and spend time with you all. Thank you for inspiring me!


Is Your Small Business Benefiting from the Practical Creativity Advantage?

As a small business owner, you know that today’s customers want it all, their way, and they want it all now! It’s simply a reality of doing business these days. Lucky for you, as a small business you actually have an advantage over some of your larger competitors when it comes to creating the peak service experiences today’s customers want. Before we explore why that is, let’s quickly take a look at what today’s customers really want:

©Karyn Ross Consulting 2017

Customers today want their service experience to be hassle-free! They want your company to be easy to do business with, and have error free services and products delivered in as short a time possible AND they want those products and services to be comparably priced – or less expensive – than your competitors AND, in this digital, technology driven world, what they really want is personal human connection! Because, after all, before we’re anything else, including being a customer, we’re all human beings!

Today’s customers won’t be satisfied with having just one part of this equation. They want it all. And that’s why being a small business can be advantageous:

  1. As a small business, you have the flexibility to make changes quickly. Customers having to wait too long for service? A small business can quickly identify all the reasons customers have to wait, brainstorm different ways around, try them out and make changes! Small businesses have the flexibility that big ones often don’t!
  2. Figuring out how to improve service processes, especially finding ways to be more effective – to do things right the first time – helps save money because you don’t waste time fixing things. And we all know, time is money! So, making changes in your service processes keeps costs low too!
  3. Finally, small businesses have the opportunity to create closer, deeper, more human relationships with their customers! And that’s a huge advantage, because when we have a deep, personal, human relationship with a customer, we can meet their underlying needs and wants – and that’s what turns a customer into a customer-for-life!

As you can see, being a small business has many advantages! However, in order to capitalize on that advantage, you need to use, what I call Practical Creativity! Practical Creativity means first getting creative ideas to improve service to customers, and then, turning those ideas into reality! How often have you had an idea to do something in your business in a different way and then simply said to yourself, “Nope. That wouldn’t work.” It’s a common thing we human beings do! However, until we turn our creative ideas into reality, we haven’t helped our customers – or our small business!

Sometimes, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and think that big businesses have all the advantages. If you’re using Practical Creativity to your advantage, though, it’s really the opposite!

Have some great stories about how your small business has taken advantage of Practical Creativity? Let me know, I’d love to hear!

Karyn Ross

Ekemp’s Oliver Thompson Guest Blogger – Time Management: Are we Managing the Wrong Thing

Oliver Thompson, of Ekemp, one of KRC’s Featured Clients, is our guest blogger for this post.

To download Oliver’s post on Time Management: Are we Managing the Wrong Thing, and to see how Oliver has created a visual system to really ‘manage’ work that needs to be done for customers, click below:

Ekemp – Oliver Thompson – Time Management

Lean in Small Business! Interview with Elaine Camm of Ekemp

Lean in Small Business! How EKemp is using Lean to “Help People Today for A Brighter Tomorrow!”

In this interview, Elaine Camm, owner of EKemp in Bury, UK (near Manchester) discusses how using Toyota Way and Practical Creativity have helped her small business become more effective and efficient in meeting customer needs!

Karyn: Elaine, can you tell us a little about EKemp, your role, and why EKemp became interested in lean? 

Elaine: I am the owner of EKemp. We specialise in providing services to insolvency practitioners in fulfilling their obligations in relation to the employees of insolvent companies and to directors of insolvent companies who might be seeking to claim redundancy.  We initially became interested in lean after a member of our team read Karyn’s book, The Toyota Way to Service Excellence. The examples given in the book really opened our eyes to what is possible with a lean mindset.

Karyn: As a small business, how has using lean principles, practices and tools helped EK’s customers and team members?

Elaine: First and foremost although we have only been on a lean journey for a comparatively short period, the change in just about every aspect of the business has been phenomenal.  To mention just a few, the office is very tidy (5S), our filing cabinets have become a visual management system and we hold a daily stand-up meeting to surface and address problems.  This has culminated in a lead time reduction from 47 days down to 7 days on a core process.  The result?  Happy clients and frequent positive feedback from intermediaries.

Karyn:  What has the biggest challenge been using lean practices in a small business?

Elaine: Whilst making changes is relatively straightforward, making them stick (i.e. standardising) is somewhat more difficult.  This has become our next obstacle to work on i.e. how to standardise our new processes to sustain our gains.  Karyn introduced us to TWI methods which are proving hugely helpful, particularly Job Instruction Training.  This comprehensive methodology has made us acutely aware of our previous shortcomings when it comes to our training approach.   We are now in the process of preparing/implementing job breakdown sheets as a way of overcoming this obstacle.

Karyn: How have you involved the team in making changes?

Elaine: As mentioned previously, we hold daily stand-up meetings during which we discuss problems and opportunities.  We have also begun cross-training the team to better meet client needs whilst at the same time providing them with greater variety in their work.  This has led to a greater degree of teamwork generally.  For example, we recently spent half a day having an office clean up.  Overall, I feel that this has led everyone to take greater pride in “the customers” work.

Karyn: What do you think that the biggest benefit of having coaching on an ongoing basis is?

Elaine: Remote coaching has been fantastic for us.  As Karyn often points out, she is teaching us the lean mindset.  She is helping us to think for ourselves rather than providing all the answers.  I think the progress we have made in such a short space of time under Karyn’s guidance is testament to the fact that remote coaching can and does work providing that you are willing to fully embrace the lean approach.  It really is a fantastic journey and we really couldn’t be happier to be on it with Karyn by our side (or rather on our computer screen)!

For further information about EKemp, please contact Elaine at


Why Your Manufacturing Company Needs Lean in Services – Interview with Noah Goellner

In this interview, Noah Goellner, Global Director of Continuous Improvement for Goellner Inc discusses how using lean in services has helped Hennig and AME focus on their vision of excellence: To Make Our Customers Successful.

Karyn: Noah, can you tell us a little about AME and Hennig, your role, and what Goellner’s approach to continuous improvement is?

Noah: Hennig and AME are sister companies in the manufacturing industry, and are both part of the holding company Goellner Inc. AME does a lot of high precision machining, and is segmented into 6 strategic operating units. Hennig has been the leading manufacturer of machine tool protection, chip conveyors, and coolant filtration systems for over 55 years.  My role at Goellner Inc. is Global Director of Continuous Improvement. Our approach to continuous improvement is to focus on developing our people with problem solving skills through a “learn by doing” approach through rapid experimentation. Through Hoshin Kanri, we align all our efforts to our vision statement “To make our customers successful”.

Karyn: I know that many manufacturing companies don’t think they need to use lean in services. Why do Hennig and AME?

Noah: What happens on the manufacturing floor is only a part of the overall customer experience.  We strive to make each of our customers successful, and to do so we need to look at improving all aspects of the customer experience.  It is not enough to have exceptional quality, a good price, and some of the fastest lead times in the industry.  These things are all very important, but the fastest manufacturing lead times in the world mean very little, if we take too long to quote, or are unresponsive to providing help or support.  Creating the best overall customer experience from start to finish, in everything we do, is the best way to help our customers be successful, not just manufacturing product.

Karyn:  How do you think you will be able to make your customers more successful by using lean in both manufacturing and services?

Noah: To make our customers more successful, we are re-engineering our organization around the needs of the customer and our vision statement.  We have restructured our sales, engineering, and manufacturing groups and collocated them into QROC’s (Quick Response Office Cells), in order to provide the quickest responses to our customers needs.  We also created a new role in our company called our “Customer Success Specialist”.  Through this initiative we are creating a continuous flow of the “Voice of the Customer” through real conversations and relationships in order to truly understand the needs of our customers through their own voice.  Then we will be aligning our organizational efforts to fulfilling these needs on a continuous basis, including Continuous Improvement, and innovation in product, process, and customer experience.

Karyn: What are some of the challenges you’ve had in introducing lean in services to a manufacturing company?

Noah: Some challenges in doing this are that it can be more difficult to find good resources on lean in services.  There are not too many great books like “The Toyota Way to Service Excellence” out there.  So the fun/challenge becomes to focus on applying the concepts of lean into area’s outside the manufacturing floor and into all processes of the organization.  Often many of the people are not used to these concepts at the beginning, but I have realized that when we work together towards a common goal, the creativity of our people can accomplish anything.  Perhaps the biggest challenge is that we need to reset our thinking to stop assuming we know what to do, and what our customers want, and really take the time to communicate and listen to what our customers have to say.

Karyn: What do you think that the biggest benefit of having coaching on an ongoing basis is?

Noah: The benefits of having Karyn’s help with coaching on an ongoing basis have been huge.  She has been crucial in providing a fresh customer-centric perspective, to not only get on the right course, but also providing the discipline and know-how to stay on the right course.  Karyn’s help in the creation and use of visual management systems and Kata coaching has helped us learn to see the issues we face on a daily basis in a way so that we can better use our creativity to solve them.  Her positive attitude and encouragement turns difficult problems into fun challenges, and her experience and knowledge in lean, and especially lean in services has been a massive factor in helping us bring out our own creativity to help continually improve our ability to make our customers successful.

For further information, please contact Noah at
And, if you’d like to learn more about how KRC is partnering with Hennig and AME, please visit Hennig’s Commitment to Excellence website page.

Don’t Pass Defects On! Interview with Joe Pellicano from PrimePay

In this interview, Joe Pellicano, Director of Strategic Initiatives for PrimePay, discusses how focusing on flow has helped PrimePay satisfy customers!

Karyn: Joe, can you tell us a little bit about PrimePay, your role and what you are currently working on?

Joe: PrimePay is a company of 500 employees headquartered in West Chester, PA.  We offer payroll, time and attendance, HR services, and employee benefits services and serve companies of all sizes, but have found a sweet spot in the 1-100 employee space.  In my role as the Director of Strategic Initiatives, my primary responsibility is overseeing the implementation of and I am currently managing the build and deployment of a new billing system.  My real passion is blending lean processes and thinking with technology (although Karyn will tell me that a white board, tick sheet, and a pencil are all you need!).

Karyn: I know how passionate you are about “Do It Right the First Time” and not passing defects on to the next customer. Can you tell us about how focusing on this has helped PrimePay’s customers and team members?
Joe: When we started implementing lean practices within the organization, I spent a lot of time going to gemba with different client support teams as I was very interested in ‘why’ our clients were contacting us.  We have a comprehensive knowledge base online and I often joke with people that in a perfect world no client ever needs to get in contact with us for support because the answer to all of their questions are available online.  As I found out though, a fair majority of the support requests we received were not related to product knowledge or training, but because of mistakes that PrimePay made.

As with most service processes, in payroll there are many steps involved and information changes hands several times along the way.  As it related to defects, I found there were two main scenarios:
(1) A mistake was made, but captured before it manifested itself as a support issue.  At face value this seemed like an acceptable path because the external client didn’t get to see any of our “dirty laundry”.  However, after digging deeper, I saw how mistakes, or more importantly, correcting mistakes was usually the responsibility of the person receiving the defect resulting in delays and rework.  More troubling, the person who made the mistake was hardly even aware that it was made because there was no feedback loop.
(2) A mistake was made and went unnoticed for all except the client.  Even process steps that take a few seconds to complete can result in a support issue that takes several hours to resolve, i.e. filing taxes for a client under the wrong FEIN, or direct depositing an employees pay into the wrong bank account.  Again, the person who made the mistake was unaware of the resulting client issues and support requests because of the lack of a feedback loop.

In short, the team members were not being held individually accountable for their work and they were not empowered to act as their own process step gatekeeper, per se.  As a result, we implemented three simple rules:

  1. I don’t make defects.
  2. I don’t pass on defects.
  3. I don’t accept defects

All three are important, but #3 had the desired effect of empowering the team and providing a necessary feedback loop.  Notice an error?  Reject it; send it back to the previous step owner for rework.  This simple idea, that I can ‘reject’ work provided to me because of defects was a monumental shift for team members as they were no longer responsible for correcting the errors from the previous step.  The previous step owner also could see the error in their ways and adjust accordingly.

The other 2 rules focused on a team member’s ability to consistently deliver quality work and recognize what quality looks like.  To aid the team, we deployed checklists, updated process documentation, changed training procedures, and developed new or improved existing systems and tools to ensure a degree of quality.

Focusing on doing it right the first time has reduced rework, reduced cycle times, empowered team members, lowered support requests (and costs), and raised customer satisfaction.

Karyn: What have been some of the challenges in helping people understand flow?

Joe: A concept that I think people are familiar with, or at least understand, but struggle to improve is value-add time.  When I talk about flow I am sure to always express it in terms of cycle time (total time from beginning to end) and processing time (total time piece was actually worked on).  “This item takes 7 days to produce but we actually do only about 15 minutes of work on it.”  In this example, the value-add time is 15 minutes.  The rest of the time it is in a constant state of waste.  It’s sitting in a big pile of other things, it’s being transported from one station to the next, or it’s being reworked.  Asking someone to improve the value-add time, and hence the flow, really requires you to think outside-the-box and I often see people struggle to break-free of this barrier.

Karyn: In services, it’s often hard to ‘see’ how our services are flowing to our customers. What has helped your team the most?

Joe: Through no fault of their own, people tend to live in their own little process bubble.  They have little knowledge of the steps an item took to get to their desk, and they have little knowledge of what other steps the item will take after it leaves.  Visual management and implementing a feedback loop are two critical areas for ensuring the team and each team member has insight into their performance.  Visual management has taken many forms over the last couple of years but it always has highlighted leading indicators.  They provide a short-term window for how work is flowing to their customers and are useful in being able to make tactical changes on the fly.

Karyn: What have been the biggest benefits of working with a coach over the long-term?

Joe: Validation.  I have been working with Karyn for as long as I have been learning about lean thinking.  Having a consistent resource to validate (or entertain) my thoughts and ideas about process improvement, and to act as my true north has been incredibly valuable.  She’s truly become a member of the team and her coaching and leadership has left an indelible mark on PrimePay and myself.

For further information about PrimePay, you can visit their website or reach out to Joe at

(And as you can see from the picture above, Joe and his wife Meghan have just had their second son! Congrats to all!)

Does Your Dog Go Out For Breakfast? And What Does That Have To Do With Creativity?

Last Saturday, my dog, Karma, went out for breakfast. Yes, you read that correctly – my dog went out for breakfast! How did a dog go out for breakfast? And what could that possibly have to do with creativity?

Let me tell you…

First thing you need to know is that Karma loves two things more than anything. One is his breakfast: mashed organic pumpkin mixed with glucosamine and probiotics! (He’s basically allergic to almost every food a dog can eat). The second is our next door neighbor, Michael. Since Michael’s family’s dog passed away a few years ago, Michael often comes over to play with Karma and take him on extra walks; over the years Michael and Karma have developed a special bond.

This past Saturday morning, Karma patrolled the backyard as usual, while I prepared his breakfast. When I opened the sliding door to call him in, though, something unusual happened. Instead of barreling in like a shot, Karma just stood there and looked at me and his dish of food, with what I can best describe as a ‘conflicted’ look on his face. Then he looked to the side…and that’s when I saw Michael heading towards our yard.

As Michael came around the fence he saw me – and Karma’s dish full of breakfast – too. “I was hoping to take Karma over to my house for a while this morning, but I see he hasn’t had breakfast yet.” Looking crestfallen, Michael added, “Maybe I can come back and get him later.” As he turned to leave, I saw how sad Karma looked too.

And then it occurred to me! Michael could take Karma AND his breakfast over to his house. “What a great idea,” said Michael! I handed him the dish and Karma’s leash and off the two went! A happy Hollywood dog story ending, right?


But it’s actually more than that. It’s a great example of what, as I define it, creativity is really all about:

Combining and synthesizing knowledge and understanding we have from previous experiences and putting them together in new and unusual ways.

Or, in other words, thinking about how to accomplish something using what I call “AND” thinking, instead of our normal “either/or” thinking.

Usually, when we work on solving a problem or figuring out how to achieve a goal, we tend to employ “either/or” thinking. For example, how many times have you heard the people you work with say “we can either have high quality services or low cost for our customers?” Or, “You can either have speed or accuracy…you can’t have both?” That’s “either/or” thinking.

Problem with “either/or” thinking is that it’s limiting. And today’s customers aren’t willing to accept those kinds of limits. Today’s customers want “luxury service at coach prices”; they aren’t willing to accept either quality or cost, they expect both. And we, as creators of those services, need to give them both:

That’s where “AND” thinking comes in. How can we give customers the quality they want AND price our services more cheaply than our competitors?

We do it by combining/synthesizing knowledge and understanding we have from previous experiences in new ways!

And that’s where Karma going out for breakfast meets creativity!

If I’d used “either/or” thinking either Karma could have gone to Michael’s house or he could have had breakfast. And at least one of my ‘customers’ would have been unhappy.

Instead, I used “AND” thinking to generate a novel solution that combined learning from previous experiences: have Michael feed the dog breakfast at his house. End result? Two very happy customers,

And that’s exactly what we want. Happy and satisfied customers. Who get everything that they want, not just part.

So, next time one of your customers asks for something, instead of using “either/or” thinking to satisfy part of their request, ask yourself “How can our dog go out for breakfast on this one?” Generate a list of all the things you know about the situation and see how you can combine them in new ways.

That’s what creativity and service excellence is all about!


If you’d like to learn more, I’ll be presenting a webinar on How to Coach for Creativity and Service Excellence, hosted by KaiNexus, on March 28th from 1 pm – 2 pm ET. You can sign up here:

Benefits of Discipline: Interview with Joe Draheim, NTL & OnWord Web Design

This month, Joe Draheim of National Taxi Limo discusses how coaching helped him to develop his ‘discipline practice’ in his personal and professional life.

Karyn: Joe, can you tell us a little bit about your background and what you’re currently working on?

Joe: I come from a technology background but decided to start a more practical business, National Taxi Limo. Currently, though, I’m gravitating towards taking what I learned from starting NTL and putting that learning back into a more technological business and into some personal projects that I’m passionate about.

Karyn: When you and Karyn first met, you were just starting your own business. Can you tell us about how practicing discipline helped you with that?

Joe: Practicing discipline helped me immensely in starting my own business. Prior to last year, I wasn’t good at managing time or money…I was kind of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants guy. I had to use discipline to learn to manage both my time and money accordingly so I could be successful both in my business and in my personal life.

Karyn: How has working on creating a ‘discipline habit’ affected you?

Joe: I started to learn discipline a long time ago, in a place I love – my safe place – the gym. To make a ‘discipline habit’ I took the lessons I’d learned from going to the gym, the only place I’d been disciplined before, and combined them with the lessons I learned from Karyn, my coach. This allowed me to create habits of good time management and finishing what I started which I applied both to my business and other areas of my personal life.

Karyn: What have been the biggest challenges of working on being more disciplined?

Joe: I come from a long-line of hard-working blue collar dreamers. I had to use the discipline habits to actually do the work to turn my dreams into reality. If you aren’t disciplined it’s easy to talk about doing things, but hard to actually do them. And unless you do things your dreams can’t turn into a reality. It’s hard to change. Being disciplined enough to change has been my biggest challenge.

Karyn: What would you recommend to others who want to become more disciplined in their work and personal lives?

Joe: First, find your passion and then find a coach and listen to what  they say and put it to use. And, the most important thing, REALLY,  the most important thing is to enjoy the struggle...because…how we get there is as important as where we are going. You’ve got to understand that discipline is the struggle and you’ve got to enjoy the struggle to make discipline work.

For further information about Joe’s work (and yes – as well as owning National Taxi Limo, Joe is a fabulous web designer), visit his website OnWord Web Design.

Why I’m Giving Out ‘Love & Kindness’ Buttons

A few months ago, I created what I call ‘Love & Kindness’ buttons. Now, wherever I go – grocery store, coffee-shop, library, mall, to name a few – I anonymously leave a ‘Love & Kindness’ button along with a small slip of paper saying something like ‘All We Need is Love’ or ‘Practice Kindness Grow Love’. I imagine that some people who find them put them on and wear them…maybe they pass them along to a friend…maybe sometimes they’re thrown out…

I’ll never know and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’ve done something that I believe will make people stop and think about the importance of love and kindness. Now and always.

When my children were little, people would ask me what I hoped they would be when they grew up. I always answered the same thing: ”Kind”. Many people thought that was a strange answer, but not me. Because I truly believe that if we treat everyone with ‘love and kindness’ everything else will work out and be alright. Everything.

So, that’s why I’m giving out ‘Love & Kindness’ buttons. A small thing to turn my personal and professional vision of a world in which everyone treats each other with love and kindness into a reality.

As the Dalai Lama says “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

What are you doing for World Kindness Day?




Interview with Corinne Visscher, Bridge Barn Consulting

In this interview, Corinne Visscher, of Bridge Barn Consulting, discusses how coaching helped her to both embrace and use her creativity.

Karyn: Corinne, can you tell us a little bit about your background and the current project you’re working on?

Corinne: I live in Squamish, British Columbia (Canada).  It is from here that I provide remote and on-site healthcare consulting support at the invitation of First Nations communities.

In my work, I have learned that a continuous improvement way of thinking has the potential to be a strong force for bringing about positive change. There is no cookie cutter approach for how organizations incorporate it into their daily operations – and that is the exciting part!

Access to affordable, culturally relevant education about continuous improvement in remote communities is a challenge.  It is for this reason that I decided to develop a distance education course: Gathering and Using Data for Continuous Improvement.

Karyn: When you and I first met, you were having some trouble getting the project started. Can you tell us about that?

Corinne: Video editing and online course development was all new to me.  I had researched and purchased my camera, microphone and back drop.  I knew that Camtasia, YouTube and Moodle were resources I would need to use.  The trouble was, I didn’t know how to get from where I was to the final product of having a course to offer.  It was scary, unknown territory.

Karyn: How has your understanding of ‘lean’ changed from doing this work?

Corinne: When I first met you, Karyn, I had a good base of understanding about lean, but I was starting to dislike it because it felt too rigid.  What I have learned is that lean is more of a framework for structuring thinking, and that framework makes space for an environment of creativity and free thinking.

Karyn: How has focusing on creativity helped you?

Corinne: For starters, I’ve redefined my perspective of creativity – I think of it more as openness to trying new things, doing things differently or thinking in new ways.  With this definition, I have the freedom to be creative every day.

Focusing on creativity has given me the courage to develop filming scripts, record and edit videos, and use resources like Camtasia, Moodle and YouTube.  Things don’t always work out like I expect, but then I try something else.  I feel like allowing myself to be creative, has given me the freedom to try new things.

Karyn: What have been the biggest benefits & challenges of working with a coach?

Corinne: Working with a coach has helped me to incorporate the habit of thinking from a learning lens.  She has helped me to embed a PDSA way of thinking into every step of the project that I am working on.  Although I haven’t finished developing the course, I have the mindset and the tools to get me there.

My coach is a phenomenal role model for effective time management.  Unfortunately, I am not nearly as disciplined with time management, and so things take longer than I expect.  I guess the challenge is that having a coach creates an accountability relationship and an expectation that you WILL get things done.  You have to be really committed to working with a coach.  You can’t just “hope” to get it done – because as Karyn will say: “There is no such thing as hope – what is your plan”.     

Karyn Ross Consulting

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