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  • Writer's pictureTilo Schwarz

Easy navigation on the Storyboard

by Tilo Schwarz | Tips for the Kata Coach | Episode 6

This article discusses how to structure the storyboard in a helpful way for Improver and Coach.


For new readers: Every Monday I intend to share hands-on tips for better coaching with the Coaching Kata. This episode is #6 in a series of articles about Denise, who has taken on her first management position as a department manager at PowerPump Inc. Denise intends to develop her team through coaching. Read Episode 1 to get into the story.


Recap of the last episode: Based on the feedback from David, her 2nd coach, Denise focused more on having precise data for the current condition in her coaching cycles. Denise also developed a trick to make patterns and outliers visible in the data. Read Episode 5 for details.


Denise sits at her desk in the office writing in the notebook she calls „Personal Management Handbook." Her new TK coaching trick is complete. She writes down as a summary: We have to spot outliers, trends, and patterns immediately - use run-chart with single values to do so.

Suddenly Denise has a name for her new trick: ‚Love at first sight‘. She has to smile and for some reason thinks of Jason, the new head of sales-administration, with whom she's having lunch today. He started with the company six months ago.

During his onboarding program, he spent two weeks in Denise’s team and worked on the assembly line to learn about the production processes first hand. They had started talking about management approaches and realized they had similar ideas on ​​how they wanted to lead their teams. She notices that she appreciates exchanging ideas with Jason and looks forward to talking to him over lunch.

A knock on the door rips her out of her thoughts. David comes in. "Denise, I just had another idea come to mind regarding your coaching cycles I observed this morning.

Go ahead,“ Denise replies.

David continues. “The process metric not only shows the unwanted effect of obstacles but also the impact of experiments we do. If a step successfully removes the root cause of an obstacle the process metric improves. If the step doesn't, or only partially, eliminates the root cause, the process metric does not advance according to our expectation, and our hypothesis is falsified. Which of course means we have learned something unexpected which is very valuable.

This means we maybe should have a new measurement of the process metric for each coaching cycle so that we can evaluate the effect of the last step."

I also noticed that the process metric in the Target Conditions of both of your Improvers measures the specific topic or process step they are currently striving to improve. For example, Mark is right now focusing on the variation in assembly time needed for the air intake nozzle. His process metric, therefore, is „time for air intake nozzle assembly.

Never the less, to reach the Target Condition regarding the overall cycle time for the assembly line, he will need to work on more points and improve more process steps. So once he has reached the planned time regarding the air intake nozzle he will move on to the next issue and define an appropriate process metric for that. In doing so, he will always have a process metric that provides useful feedback regarding the specific focus of his improvement efforts which is great for him.

The coach, however, should also keep an eye on whether or not there will be a positive effect on the output metric of the Target Condition. Are we really getting closer to our Target Condition? How much time do we have left until our due date? Are we improving fast enough? Besides, while Mark is improving one issue, other issues might cause a negative influence on the output metric. Then you as a coach would have to react to this so as not to endanger the overall goal.

To do so it is probably good to have the output metric tracked permanently to include all issues and effects and make sure you don’t miss out on any substantial negative development. However, it might not be necessary to have a new measurement of the outcome metric for each coaching cycle. Updating it once or twice a week might be enough as a single experiment is unlikely to cause a sudden leap in our output metric“.

They discuss the idea for a while, then David says goodbye.

Denise opens her notebook again and writes:

The Output Metric belongs to the coach - continuous recording, can but does not necessarily have to be, updated before every coaching cycle.

The Process Metric belongs to the Improver - update chart with current data before each coaching cycle - does not need to be recorded continuously.

Having new data for the process metric might mean, that the Improver needs to observe the process prior to each coaching cycle to obtain a new process metric measurement if there is no other way of measuring it, Denise concludes.

Then she thinks about her coaching cycle with Joe. It was tough for her to follow his remarks when he had presented the findings of his process observation from yesterday. For that, he had put up several sketches all over the storyboard. A block diagram of the process, a 20-cycle check chart, and a spaghetti diagram for the movement of the operators. He had jumped back and forth between these diagrams and the target condition form. Denise struggled to orient herself on the board. Somehow we have to bring some structure to the storyboard, she thinks.

Maybe we could arrange the documents following the five stages of the coaching cycle? That's it! She writes down a new tip in her notebook:

Use visual orientation on the storyboard. The coaching conversation proceeds from left to right on the board. The level of detail increases from top to bottom.

Denise draws a little sketch of her idea for the storyboard:

See TK Memory Jogger, 2018, page 33 for details.

Top left, the target condition form, including the process block diagram and sketches of the actual and desired process pattern below it. In the middle at the top, the chart for the output metric, below it the chart for the process metric. Right side at the top the Experimenting Record with the Obstacle Parking Lot below.

Maybe we could place sketches of technical aspects and results from root cause analysis below the Obstacle Parking Lot, Denise finishes her thoughts.

Another knock at Denise’s door and then Jason looks in. "Hey, time for lunch, did you forget me?". He laughs. Denise closes her notebook, gets up from the desk and they make their way to the canteen.

Next week: Read how Denise and Jason discuss how to define Target Conditions for administrative processes.



See TK Memory Jogger page 33 and page 66 for more details on how to set up a storyboard.


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