Core Team

The Core Team is the formation of a small group of key personnel, predominately representatives from the Pilot Area. [1]  Their purpose is to focus on the implementation and application of LEAN principles and concepts in the Pilot Area.  Nevertheless, there should be a strong emphasis on learning and experimenting in their efforts, as to develop a new way of making the implementation approach more effective and practical.

Core Teams may vary in size, but typically comprise of 5 to 12 members – with no more than 15 max.  Some of the suggested areas they will come from, include:

  • Senior Operators and Key Team Members from the Area, and there should be more than one (1) of these types
  • Team Lead or Supervisor
  • Manager or Senior Leader

Core Teams are Between 5 to 12 Members

Core Team members should also be cross-functional, so they may include personnel who work in areas from:

  • Industrial Engineering (IE)
  • Maintenance
  • Quality
  • Logistics
  • Internal LEAN Representative

Although we do want to start achieving your desired results from the implementation efforts with the Core Team, the underlying theme is to experiment so that we may develop a new way of thinking in doing things.

Experiment so That We May Develop a New Way of Thinking and Doing Things!

With this in mind, consider the following criteria for selecting Core Team members:

  1. Willingness to Make Changes
  2. Will Designate as a High Priority
  3. Able to Lead Others [2]
  4. Willingness to Teach and Coach Others [3]
  5. Understanding and Knowledge

Ultimately, if the Core Team is successful, they will build momentum with your implementation efforts, while reinforcing the application of LEAN principles and concepts.

References, and Links to Further Explanations

  1. The Pilot Area is one of the Primary Elements of Our Paradigms: Pilot Area.
  2. Ability to Lead Others is one of the Secondary Elements of Our Paradigms: Leadership Commitment and Involvement.
  3. Willingness to Teach and Coach Others is one of the Secondary Elements of Our Paradigms: Coaching.

Helpful Hints to Building a Core Team

Most Management Teams, Senior Leaders, and LEAN Practioners start-off with a large Core Team between 12 to 15 members because they want to (amongst other desired outcomes):

  • Maximize the Learning-base, and Involve Many Key Personnel
  • Utilize a Cross-Functional Team
  • More Team Members Means Faster Results, and Quicker Deployments to Other Areas

In reality, larger Core Teams typically result in quite the opposite!  Suffice to say, having too many members leads to too many discussions, little action and follow-up, and abdication of responsibilities when actually doing the work.  In fact, in most instances, larger Core Teams results in a few members who are left to figure things out on their own, but are being given constant direction (sometimes conflicting) and/or questioning of their approach that ultimately stalls their overall efforts!

Large Core Teams are Not Effective, and Oftentimes Stall in Their Overall Efforts!

Your initial approach to building and effectively utilizing a Core Team should also follow the way of a Pilot Area. [1]  Meaning, the Core Team is also a testbed for the implementation and application of LEAN principles and concepts, often experimental in making our application more practical.

With this in mind, consider the following areas where Core Team members will come from:

  • 2 to 3 Members: Senior Operators from the Area
  • 1 Member: Team Lead or Supervisor
  • 1 Leader: Coach or LEAN Representative (Internal or External) to Lead and Facilitate the Application Process

The Most Effective Core Teams Comprise of Only 4 to 5, with Almost All of the Team Members Coming Directly From the Area

Of course, there could be a secondary Core Team or larger group that can be part of the learning approach for observations.  However, their role should remain on the periphery as a RACI Informed member [4] for understanding, while their participation should be limited to project report-outs.

With a smaller Core Team, the criteria for selecting members becomes more critical!  That is also the reason for the designated priority by which we have identified the criteria.

*Note: Understanding and knowledge is at the bottom of the list compared to someone who is willing to lead and coach others.  This is contrary to most organizations who want to designate one of the most knowledgeable in the Core Team, when they have little to no desire to lead and coach others, and transfer the knowledge. [3]  In the end, the outcomes and desired results are not achieved, and deployment efforts to other areas completely fail!

The Selection Criteria is Critical for Smaller Core Teams

To say that each Core Team member must contribute is an understatement.  Not only are they expected to achieve the outcomes and desired results, but they have to develop a new way of making the implementation approach more effective and practical.  As a result, they will be expected to build the structure [5] or blueprint for how to do this effectively and efficiently, as well as then lead, teach, and coach others in the ways of doing it.

References, and Links to Further Explanations

  1. RACI Informed member is a designated role that is part of the Secondary Elements of Our Paradigms: RACI Team Model.
  2. Build the Structure is one of Our Fundamentals of LEAN we have Defined: Structure.

Insight from a Master Sensei

Creating and deploying a Core Team is the first step to creating strong teamwork.  It is important to understand and reflect the team member’s diversity, knowledge, and experiences that will contribute to your overall effort.  And what is critical to success is creating Mutual Respect and Trust amongst each of them.

With the Application of the PDCA Cycle [6], each Core Team member will offer and contribute their own lessons learned, and how they can apply it with the others.  This not only strengthens the ability to solve problems, but allows more opportunities to improve and sustain your activities going forward.

Therefore, it is important that you choose the right people to make-up the Core Team.  Evaluate the team members beforehand, because it is important to understand who they are and what they will bring to the team.  Having too many similar types of people will not be successful, or you will limit the opportunities of what can be done.

References, and Links to Further Explanations

  1. The PDCA Cycle is one of the Primary Elements of Our Paradigms: Application of the PDCA Cycle.  Learn more about Toyota’s Iteration of the PDCA Cycle Training.

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