Flashback Friday: My First Video Podcast with Jamie Flinchbaugh in 2009


Wow, time flies! 15 years ago, Jamie Flinchbaugh and I embarked on our first-ever video podcast adventure as part of my Lean podcast (a podcast I started in 2006)

Back then, my hair was much darker, and Jamie… well, let's just say some things never change! 😂

Take a trip down memory lane with us and enjoy the throwback to when we were just getting started with video podcasting. It wasn't as easy as it is today. We used Skype instead of Zoom or Streamyard. I had to edit together two separate video files using iMovie. But I'm glad we have this time capsule of a video.

In recent years, we've really enjoyed doing our “Lean Whiskey” podcast. I hope you'll check that out.

In this podcast episode, Mark Graban of Lean Blog Interviews sits down with Lean strategist Jamie Flinchbaugh. They break down the intricacies of effective Lean coaching and talk about its significance in Lean transformations. The listener is exposed to the fascinating concept that Lean transformations are about developing people and their skills, with coaching playing an integral part in orchestrating this growth.

Mark and Jamie dig deep into the key aspects of Lean coaching: the process, framework, and mindset, exploring how they contribute to a successful lean transformation. Discussion also encompasses the application of standardized work in coaching, with Mark and Jamie arguing that rather than limiting flexibility, standardization can aid consistency in coaching, leading to better outcomes. If you're looking to equip your workforce with the tools necessary for using Lean principles optimally, this episode is a must-listen.


Welcome to the Lean Blog podcast. Visit our website at www.leanblog.org. now here's your host, Mark Graban.

Well, welcome to the first-ever Lean Blog video podcast. My name is Mark Graban, and I'm very happy to have Jamie Flinchbaugh from the Lean Learning Center joining us today.

Thank you very much, Mark, good to have you here.

We're going to be talking about the role of coaching in a lean transformation. So I was wondering if you could explain to us why you think coaching is important and what some of the difference is between coaching people towards a solution and coaching them towards a method.

Yeah, well, I think fundamentally lean is about people. So if that's true, then coaching is an important mechanism to help develop the organization. So pretty simple statement, but if you get your arms around lean is about people, then coaching is a core process. The difference between coaching people towards the solution and the method. The solution is really the idea that the coach has in their head and says, here's what I think is the best solution and I'm going to help you get there by prodding you and probing and asking questions and help you along to that idea that I think is probably the best one.

Coaching someone on the method is helping them get to their own conclusion. Not your conclusion, but help them ask the right questions, help them observe, help them do root cause analysis. Help them with the method that they would use to develop their own answer. So a lot of people think they coach, and I'm sure probably 99% of your listeners would say we ask them that they coach, but we have to distinguish a difference between coaching the method and coaching the solution. Both are good, but they are different.

Right. So when you say they're both good, I imagine there's kind of a time and a place to coach toward a solution versus coaching the method. Yeah. So it's not that it's a bad way to go, it's just, it just is different and we rely on it too much. For example, if you're in a burning building and someone walks up to you and says, how do I get out?

You don't want to start coaching them on the method by asking how would you approach that and what questions do you need and what data do you need? You point them to the door and you help them get out. So there's a right time for both and we just need to know the difference and know when we should use, which it's probably not a time to step back and start asking the five whys of why the building is on fire. Sometimes you got to just get out and then step back and do the root cause analysis. Absolutely.

Contain the problem first and then move on. Yeah. So what are some methods or frameworks that you use for doing coaching? What are some practical things that people can do when thinking about how to coach? Well, I think there's probably three components that make up coaching.

There's process. So how you actually go through the method, there's sort of the framework or lens that you use. And then there's also the mindset. And just the mindset isn't so much the practical part, but it is important, and it fundamentally is that as a coach you need to believe that you're coaching for the other person to be successful. You're not coaching to get them to do what you want to do.

You're coaching to help them get to their own answers and be successful beyond the coaching experience. So when you think about how to coach, is there, I guess from a lean perspective, any sort of standardized work, if you will, for how to go about setting up a coaching relationship or a coaching moment where you're trying to work with somebody? Well, we believe there is standardized work for how you go about that. If you think about why we use standardized work and what you're trying to accomplish with standardized work, you want to get a repeatable outcome. So that's one reason to use standardized work.

You want to be able to experiment and improve. That's another. You want to be able to deviate when you need to deviate from a known standard. So, you know, standard work gives us, you know, consistency and flexibility when used properly. So why would I not want that for how I do coaching?

It's really pretty powerful. Now the reason people resist even thinking about standardized work for coaching conversations is that they start thinking about all the variation they have to put up with. I don't know what the other person is going to say. I don't know how they're going to act. I don't know what the problem's going to be.

How could I have standardized work? And that actually means standard work is even more important. You know, kind of the argument that people are giving us is, well, it's so variable already, I'd rather add more variation to it by not having standard work, which isn't really a good argument. I mean, I guess people might say, well, every coachee, every person, every situation is different, so how could you standardize that? That might be some of the resistance, right?

Absolutely. That's basically what it comes down to. And what I think is that you're going to have standard work. And because you can't control the other person, it may only occasionally follow precisely step by step how your standard work is laid out. But if you have that standard work, you can keep coming back to it over and over again.

So even if you start in the middle, you still know that you skip steps one, two and three. And you know, to follow the standard work, you eventually need to get back to those steps. So it won't be perfect. It's not like putting together a carburetor. But by having that standard work, you can follow those steps a little more cleanly.

And when you miss, or when you deviate or when you have variation, you can react to that much more, much more cleanly. Yeah, and it's interesting you mentioned standardized work, but then this experimental process, and it reminds me of, sounds like the PDCA plan, do check actual cycle. Is that something that's beneficial either thinking about the process for how you're coaching someone at that moment to check and see is the coaching working and can you also extend that PDCA to the overall process of coaching itself? Well, coaching is really about learning, right? So, I mean, and so is PDCA.

PDCA is a learning cycle fundamentally. And so they fit, they fit hand in glove very well. So the p, the plan of PDCA is really that coaching conversation, that moment when you're working with someone to figure out the plan. And we believe the standard work for that coaching conversation involves basically four components. First is you need to understand the goals for the person, what's their ideal state, what's their target, what are they trying to accomplish?

And even what is the goals for the relationship that they want from you? I think many people start a coaching conversation without asking first, would you mind if I did some coaching? And it's a very freeing conversation to have to say, you know, I'd like to coach. And if you agree to it, then you really can do a whole lot more. The second component of that is current reality, and this is, it can be lots of different versions, but it's really understanding what the person has done and what result they've gotten.

So simply asking what have you tried and what did you get? Just digging into every opportunity that they've done. You also need to brainstorm options, so you need to cover as much ground as possible. And if you're coaching on the method, you want the other person to present every possible idea that they have before you even present your first idea, because you really want to clear their head. You want to get all the ideas out of their head onto the table, and then are they open to receiving new ideas?

And then lastly is the action, you know, what are you going to go do? What are those ideas you're going to pick and even what help might you need along that way? That's the last step of that coaching conversation. So you've done all that, but all you've done so far is the plan of plan to check act.

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous articleThe Pitfalls of Safety Bonuses in Lean Factories: A True Story
Next articleUpcoming Shingo Webinar on Learning From Mistakes and Psychological Safety
Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.