In November 2018 the Ecosystem Coordination Board (ECB) agreed that developing "kaizen" mechanisms in Puget Sound recovery could be useful for improving how we do ecosystem management. We agreed that the "coordination community" would be the right group for designing this kind of effort, and understanding whether new capacity is required.
We have formed a temporary volunteer workgroup from within the "coordination community", staffed by NOAA Restoration Center. This workgroup is implementing a rudimentary but functioning continuous improvement process. We envision a four step approach:
- Local Teams, working in "gemba" make "complaints" about "waste" in the "ecosystem recovery system", through a google form, which is organized into a "backlog" of "claims" by our coordinator community representatives (see our prototype Complaints Backlog),
- From this backlog, a facilitator agrees to support development of a claim into an "improvement effort" using an "A3 process" with opportunities for peer support (Workshop TBD in October).
- An A3 may be then be endorsed by "affected institutions" and the ECB. Through shared advocacy among "funders", a facilitator is supported to implement the improvement project.
- The coordinator community and its facilitators, under the auspices of the ECB, in its support of the Leadership Council, track and evaluate complaints, our backlog of claims, and the efficacy of improvement projects.
Our assumption is that continuous improvement of the Ecosystem Recovery System is not optional--our systems are particularly cumbersome and likely to benefit from Kaizen. We will test Steps 1 and 2 of the above proposed system in the Summer and Fall of 2019. We will bring our improvement proposals and system designs back to the ECB and affected institutions in early winter, and aim to work on steps 3 and 4 through the 2020 project development season.
There is lots of lingo above. It is useful to know how we are using words to represent specific concepts:.
- A3 Process - A3 refers to a tabloid size sheet of paper, and the A3 process is where a facilitator works with the claimants and affected institutions, asking a series of questions, to define the whole problem and solution within a single tabloid sheet of paper, following a traditional format. Here is the A3 for "Continuous Improvement" (requires permissions)
- Affected Institutions - Those institutions that would need to adjust processes or behaviors to realize the proposed improvement.
- Backlog - a list of objectives, in this case, process improvements. Keeping our shared backlog lively and well organized makes us more nimble and efficient at coordination, achieving multiple benefits, and leveraging opportunities.
- Barrier is a general term for anything that keeps us from doing ecosystem work, from unintended consequences to deeply-seated social conflicts. We avoid this generalization, and are focused on improving unintentional institutional processes that result in waste.
- Claim - A logical and informed observation of waste.
- Complaint - The early form of a claim, which may not consider all the factors affecting the claim.
- Coordinator Community - staff members involved in one of many Coordination Bodies, such as Lead Entity Coordinators, Local Integrating Organization Coordinators, Ecosystem Recovery Coordinators, or Marine Resource Committee Coordinators.
- Ecosystem Recovery System - the sprawling complex of authorities, workgroups, and social infrastructure involved in the management of ecosystem services. This system is the aggregate of the drivers that determine ecosystem state, and therefore the success of all our ventures. All drivers are integrated in gemba where real places are either restored or degraded. Therefore, the Ecosystem Recovery System, while somewhat haphazard and difficult to comprehend, is what actually determines whether we are successful in achieving a meaningful change to ecosystem state.
- Funders - the assortment of state and federal programs that support project implementation through grants and technical assistance.
- Facilitator - An individual, following standard methods, that supports development and implementation of an A3, to reduce waste. They could be operational staff, grant funded, or supported under capital program administration.
- Gemba - A Japanese word for the factory floor, the scene of the crime, or wherever the action is, where useful facts can be gathered. In the Ecosystem Recovery System, gemba are the actual places, in the watershed, where local teams protect or restore ecosystems.
- Improvement Effort - A change to our social systems, where an adjustment of behavior, cash flow, infrastructure, or communications results in a reduction of waste, so that we have more resources that can be used to generate value in Gemba.
- Kaizen, or Gemba Kaizen - Kaizen is a Japanese word that translates roughly to "continuous improvement", and represents a practical approach to improving business processes developed as part of the Toyota Production System, and has since spread globally across manufacturing and many other sectors. It is the predecessor of Lean Management, which is a commercialized version common in the USA.
- Value - the ecosystem services that we are charged to protect and restore for various publics, as represented by legislative bodies.
- Waste - waste is any resource expended without directly generating value. Some waste is necessary, but likely less than we think. The goal of a production system is to create value with the least waste possible--perfect production.
The work group is hosting a workshop in October, seeking champions and exploring improvement strategies for the following complaints.
Selected Complaints about the Planning and Funding System
|Meeting Travel Vortex
||Remote and web-cast meetings need to be standard and efficient to reduce wasted effort in coordination.
||State-federal programs have an efficient mechanism for providing information about program activities to local teams, reducing beneficial impacts.
|Grant Reporting Redundancy
||Each grant and planning system assigns unique reporting and data management tasks diverting limited local capacity from ecosystem management, and undermining collective reporting.
|Grant Budget Coordination
||Project managers waste resources managing a unique budget for each grant to meet application requirements.
||Large Project Budget Standards
||Each funding program uses different language to describe projects, requiring each applicant to redefine the project for that programs application.
||Administration of grant match consumes critical resources limiting the rate of ecosystem recovery with unclear benefits.
|Performance Measure Standards
||The use of different preformance measures among programs undermines regional performance reporting.
|Coordinated Geographic Acquisition Priorities
||Different programs offer different acquisition, lease, and incentive tools and have different priorities, preventing field teams from operating with a full toolkit in any one geography.
|Improving Stewardship of Acquisitions
||Once acquired, conservation lands have weak mechanisms for long-term stewardship, unsupported by state-federal resources.
- Paul Cereghino (NOAA Restoration Center; staff)
- Kit Crump (Stillaguamish Lead Entity Coordinator)
- Laura Ferguson (PSP Ecosystem Recovery Coordinator)
- Marta Green (San Juan Local Integrating Organization Coordinator)