When we talk about Lean Management, we invariably talk about a set of practices, concepts and tools that help managers and professionals of all levels to put changes into motion to get better processes. Surrounding Lean it’s possible to find different methodologies and ways to approach problems in order to solve them—like the Design Sprint For Process (DS4P).
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with Jonas Rompkovski, the Lean-Agile Coach behind the development of the Design Sprint For Process. The way he works with Lean is ingenious and much more agile than most methodologies you’ll find around. Its greatest quality is to close the gap between the current state of any process to the future state in only five days.
Stay tuned to learn how Jonas Rompkovski deploys this huge boost of improvement in such a brief amount of time and be amazed by how Lean can be adaptable and innovative in any business context.
Design Sprint For Process: Changing the Rules
The Design Sprint For Process is an alternative method for improvement techniques especially aimed at those who don’t dispose of the time to engage in longer processes. Rompkovski’s proposition is to go from the current state to the future state in just five days by engaging professionals in a strong way, quickly identifying problems to come up with solutions.
Rompkovski told me that his method is based on processes and not in products, unlike Google’s Design Sprint—which is his main inspiration for this leaner version. In Google’s case, we have a technique specifically designed for products, to create and validate ideas that eventually become prototypes. These three main stages remain in both but with different approaches:
I’ll explain later each one of these steps. For now, keep in mind that in Google’s case the goal usually is to bring about the best possible idea for a product, while in the DS4P’s situation the focus is on the best results. Topics such as costs, impact level and actions applicability will be taken into account here, key points that usually don’t have a huge weight in Google’s Sprint.
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Here, the planning phase takes over the prototyping phase—this is where the employees begin to think about the changes to then validate them with the company. Naturally, Rompkovski said it’s possible to mix the two methods since the Design Sprint For Process will highlight all the weaknesses to be overcome, allowing the team to create a product if that’s the intention.
The Soul Of The Design Sprint For Process
Rompkovski states that when the problem to be resolved is identified the big stage is set. Here, the employees work together for five days to evaluate the best possible solutions, pinpointing the issues and bringing ideas to the discussion. In order to do that in such a period of time, the following roles have to be filled:
- The Team: the workers involved in the process;
- The Decider: the one with the power to make decisions;
- The Specialists: the ones who will validate all the process.
We’re talking about design sprint, so expect to use post-its, colorful pens, write things on the walls, anything that helps to make the activity more dynamic. By the way, this is where Lean tools, concepts and practices step into the scene, but we’ll take a more about that in a bit. Check out what is done in each phase of the Design Sprint For Process:
Here, we discover the problem’s core. The employees must have a clear vision of their workflow to better comprehend each one of the phases of the process, thus establishing the bottlenecks and their root causes. Value Stream Mapping and 5 Whys Analysis can be decisive tools here. Collect all the data you can gather to properly think about different scenarios.
After a couple days we enter the divergence phase. This is when hypotheses begin to take shape. In the definition phase, the team members use tools like Kanban, A3, PDCA and so on to obtain the potential outcome of the future state. After some time of individual planning, each one of the members creates an anonymous presentation to show their ideas. The best solution is voted and the decider chooses how to handle the selected proposition to the MVP stage.
In the last stage, the proposal is validated. The employees work together once again but now all in favor of the same process, presenting the outcome to the specialists, who will approve it or deny it. In Rompkovski words, change without pain is change with people’s engagement. Change, execute and verify your results. That’s his secret.
Keep in mind that this method developed by Rompovski has a key difference when compared to other traditional alternatives, such as DMAIC or A3: velocity. The shrinking of the whole process time as a result of higher planning (focused just in processes) is the biggest gain here, although DS4P borrows tools and ideas from its companions. He says that his methodology has a lot of the analysis techniques found within DMAIC, for example.
Lean & Agile. It’s A Match?
According to Jonas Rompkovski, Agile is strictly related to Lean (with its concepts, practices and tools). Agile itself emerged as a way to reduce the time to market of companies but with a focus on people, and in improving people’s routine inside organizations. Therefore, Agile and other trendy methodologies, such as design thinking, have a lot to collaborate with Lean.
That’s why Rompkovski highlighted so much the cooperation and support of the team across processes of improvement. He shared that about 90% of problems can be found in poorly designed systems, bad workflows and defective processes, but only 10% relate to people.
Jonas Rompovski shared that great changes and gains don’t come simply from the choice of the methods, but from the analysis, care and involvement of people. It doesn’t matter the position that this or that employee has in the company, but rather what he or she can contribute to the organization’s growth (something that it’s easily missable if you’re not paying attention).
Regardless of the method you chose to use (whether the Design Sprint For Process or more traditional approaches), Rompovski states that people have to be involved at the maximum if they want to succeed. He finished our talk with a famous quote from Lean (and one that I particularly like a lot): the problems are not in the people, they are in the processes.