Grace Bourke's Blog

  • Respect

    Working with an improvement team that displayed deep cultural commitment to respect got me curious about “respect.” What is a culture of respect? I saw the usual habits of respect: leave titles at the door, no interrupting, no blaming. This team had something more. Here are a few examples:

  • Beyond workplace heroics

     The world appreciates heroes--they achieve the extraordinary! Workplace examples include the programmer who comes in at 8:00 am after working until 4:00 am installing the latest software version; the nurse who pulls a double shift; the lab scientist who repairs machinery on the weekend, and the administrator who makes the eighth round of revisions to the board report. 

  • Wait…don’t tell me

    This crossing sign visualizes the concept of pausing before moving forward together, just like the request to “wait…don’t tell me.” I experienced this pausing before moving forward when helping a 9-year old with her third grade reading homework. She was struggling and asked me to tell her the words she didn’t know.

  • Kitting reduces setup time

  • Low-hanging fruit

    While I was taking an early morning walk, a patch of ripe blackberries caught my eye – a tasty treat of low-hanging fruit. As I sampled the ripe berries, my thoughts went to a time at work where our team didn’t see the low-hanging fruit.

  • Self-care

    Take a breath…pause for just a moment and take a deep breath. My family is in the final hours of preparing for a wedding, and the days have been long, intense, and emotional. Everyone is giving 100 percent. As we were jumping from one important activity to another, I remembered an experience I had last week of pausing to smell the roses.

  • Perfect takes practice

    Feeling adventurous, I went ocean kayaking. Having paddled before, I thought I was capable. As the professional instructor demonstrated the correct way to hold the paddle, I learned that my grip and arm position were wrong. Adjusting, I was ready to learn to paddle. I struggled with the correct movements, especially a flip back of the left wrist which I kept doing as a forward twist. The instructor coached me a few times before saying, “You’ll get it when you’re on the water.”

  • Step in, step up

    Recently, a team was doing a 5S workshop. A 5S workshop (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain) is an intensive week-long event that is a fundamental step to implementing lean process improvements. It involves letting go of treasure/junk that has accumulated as a safety net. Then, everything is put in place, cleaned, inspected, made predictable, andmaintained through auditing and 5-minute daily touch-ups. The process has been described as “bone crunching” or “gut wrenching” for the teams as they build consensus and make many, many tough decisions. It’s always a challenge.

  • Detours

  • Fail fast

    During a weekend photography class, I had the opportunity to try a unique lens. We took pictures in the morning, critiqued at lunch, took pictures at sunset, self-reflected, and repeated. In the space of a weekend, we had four rounds of experiments using PDCA (plan–do–check–act).