Earth Consultants

Applying Lean Six Sigma to the Environment

E083: Kata for Good and #RootCauseRacism with Deondra Wardelle

31 min read

In this podcast, I interview Deondra Wardelle, whom I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know over the past year. She is a strategic thinker and consultant based in Indianapolis (Indiana) who focuses on coaching, empowering and developing individuals towards achieving their personal and professional goals. Her passion and life’s calling is using Continuous Improvement methodologies via Vision Boards to help change the lives of people by turning their dreams into reality one day at a time. She is founder and CEO of On To The Next One. She is so uplifting and positive! I look forward to working with her more closely in the years to come…

We are both part of the Lean Communicators network, and I found out that she has worked for and volunteered with nonprofit organizations, so I wanted to hear about her experience and insights.

In addition to her nonprofit work, she is also the creator of the #RootCauseRacism, which was created last year during the aftermath of the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd to address and stamp out rampant racism globally.

We also discuss her passion around the Toyota Kata, and how she feels it can help nonprofits and social injustice by learning and practicing the kata routines.

If you enjoy this podcast, please follow us on your favorite podcast app. Any ratings you could give us, or shares across social media would be greatly appreciated!

You can watch the full video of the interview here…



Have you ordered the new book, “Lean Six Sigma for Good: Lessons from the Gemba (Volume 1)?” The book is made up of 8 chapters written about experiences from Lean and Six Sigma practitioners, to give you tips and tricks to help you work with nonprofits in your area. All proceeds donated to charity. We are also close to releasing Volume 2, so check back for the latest news.


Brion (B): Hi. Well, today we have Deondra Wardelle with us. We are part of a group called Lean Communicators and that’s how we’ve really gotten to know each other. But just seeing your work over the last year or two and heard you had done some work with nonprofits, and so I’d like to learn a little bit more about that and also any other projects you’ve got working. I know you’ve got a lot of great stuff going. So thanks for joining us, Deondra, and if you could just introduce yourself.

Deondra (D): Sure. So Brion, first of all, thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your podcast. I’m so honored. I’ve followed you for the longest. I admire your work. And, of course, over the past year, having an opportunity to get to know you better through our work as Lean Communicators has just been a fabulous experience.

But to introduce myself, my name is Deondra Wardelle and I am the owner, lead consultant, CEO at On To The Next One Consulting. That is my own firm that I work with individuals and groups to help them get connected with their purpose and accomplish their wildest dreams, their biggest goals by taking them one step at a time and then moving on to the next one.

B: Great. So how did you get into process improvement? I think you have an interesting story of your journey there.

D: Yeah. So what’s odd is when I reflect and I think about my first experiences with process improvement, it really started in my home. My parents, although they didn’t have any formal Lean training, a lot of what they taught my siblings and I growing up, there is a place for everything and everything in its place. I learned 5S before I learned my alphabet I believe. And then just the way that my parents always encouraged us to look at ways to make processes better and look at ways to do things more efficiently. My dad had this expression, “Use your head for more than a hat rack,” and I would always laugh when he said that. The other thing too, my parents really instilled in me the importance of demonstrating respect for people. First of all, having respect for myself, and then making sure others feel respected, that I recognized the greatness that’s within others. And so that, like I said, started out as a child.

But then over the course of my career, I first got introduced to Lean when I worked at an electronic repair industry. During that particular time, I was in Operations and our Site Manager had an extensive amount of experience in practicing Lean and he wanted to introduce it to our site. Typically, whenever there were any special projects, he would tap me on the shoulder and ask to assist with it. As I began to shadow him, we started out learning about 5S and the eight or seven ways, depends on which school of thought you’re from. Just that introductory training and that exposure helped to connect all the dots of everything I had been doing my entire life and I wanted to learn more. And so I continued to learn and study and work and practice until, eventually, I had an opportunity to serve as a Global Performance Director. It was with a large printing and packaging company. I had responsibility for 70 facilities in North America, Europe, and Asia. I led a team of Master Black Belts in working with facilities and members of the leadership team to drive improvements using what I learned as a child from my parents.

B: I’ve heard that in classes before. People will say, “I didn’t know this had a name or this was called something. I’ve always done this, but I didn’t know 5S was a real thing. I just had always done that pattern and that technique.”

D: Exactly.

B: You were also coming up through HR, is that right? it wasn’t like you came in through an engineering or management roles specifically, but you kind of through the– Could you explain that a little bit, on how your role kind of in HR fed into the process improvement work?

D: Absolutely. So one of the things that’s really interesting is I have a diverse background. I have over 30 plus years of operations management experience and have worked as a Buyer-Planner, Program Manager, a Business Unit Manager. I’ve served as a Project Lead for IT projects. Again, going back to talking about the whole respect for people and wanting to ensure that people had an opportunity to thrive at work, in one of my earlier roles, my first HR role was an HR Manager and in that role, I saw a number of opportunities to connect continuous improvement with what we do in human resources to standardize processes, to update policies. For any events that we would organize among the HR department, looking at the most efficient way to execute events, projects, or what have you. because although typically, in most environments, human resources doesn’t contribute to the bottom line directly, with it being a resource that is available to ensure that the business is operating and functioning properly, it’s still important to recognize the impact that what HR does can affect the bottom line.

And so over the course of numerous HR roles that I had, and one of the most recent human resource roles I had, I served as the Vice President of Human Resources and Continuous Improvement. What I thought was unique and brilliant about combining those two roles is that when you look at any process improvement or any enhancement you want to make to the organization and how it is that the culture operates, it starts with the people and showing people how the work that they do is connected to the mission and the objectives of the organization. So in whatever role, when I was in retail, I managed two clothing stores and two of the largest malls in Louisville, Kentucky. In that role, I had human resource responsibility, recruiting, training, developing the staff, coaching the staff. The same is true when I was in the banking industry as a Bank Branch Manager. I had responsibility of training, developing, ensuring that members of my team were successful.

And so I just think that with the work that we do in continuous improvement and Lean, everything connects back to the people. And so I was always excited when I was in those HR roles and had a hands-on opportunity to really work directly with processes and policies that affected people to ensure that they had opportunities to be successful.

B: Yeah, and I think that’s a huge opportunity with organizations is where HR fits into their Lean journey or improvement journey. I think they’re often not the ones leading it. They’re kind of assisting maybe with training and maybe tracking an introductory course or helping create that, but you’re right, it is so much around the people side of it and how you manage and lead. But I think it’s looked at as tools for manufacturing or operations and what does this have to do with HR? we just deal with the people who are complaining about this new initiative. I feel like that’s kind of the traditional way they kind of fit in. How do you feel like HR should be taking on that role for an improvement change or culture change?

D: My mindset, how I feel is wherever there are people and processes, there are opportunities to apply Lean. The Human Resources Department is a key contributor to what’s bringing value to the organization, so whether it’s manufacturing or if it’s in a nonprofit or what have you. Yes, we do have automation and there is technology, but you need people who are actually doing the work and people need to see how they’re connected to the work. They need to understand how they are valued. They need to feel empowered that when they run into something in their work that doesn’t make sense or is not functioning properly or if they don’t have the tools they need to be successful, then there should be an environment where the environment or the culture should operate in such a way that allows those people to raise their hand and say, “Hey, there’s a better way to do this. There’s a better way for us to work smarter and not harder.” The HR Department, I see that as a key part of a company that can help elevate and give an opportunity to give voice to the employees to share their ideas, to make their recommendations that will ultimately make the organization better and, ultimately, delighting the external customer.

The other thing, too, and I know you’ve heard me talk about this before in some of our offline chats when we talk about how we’re using Lean to change the world, but the thing about it is, especially in the workplace, we often focus on the external customer. An external customer is very important, but I also view the employee as the internal customer. If the internal customer is satisfied, if the internal customer, the employee, is aligned with the vision, the mission, the goals, and objectives of the organization, if they see how they fit in with the overall process, well that helps them to feel connected, it helps them to feel included. So, of course, they’re going to make contributions to make the business successful because they benefit from it as well as an employee having the opportunity to be successful in their own position and also have opportunities for advancement. So it’s a win-win for everyone when we take the time to recognize the importance of investing in the talent that we have on our teams.

B: Yeah, and I know you’ve done some work with Kata as well, and so I think the how you lead is really important. It’s not the intuitive way a lot of people have led or managed or worked their way up through a company as stepping back and asking good questions and not giving answers. I think that’s something that you have, but you can’t just have a couple people doing that. You’ve got to have everybody on the same page with that, which is where I think HR is also really a key component on the leadership development and how we’re going to manage and act and show that respect as a company.

D: Absolutely, absolutely. I remember when I worked, in one of my past careers, when I worked at an electronic repair industry. I’m going back referencing the example I gave earlier about the Operations leader, the Site Director who wanted to introduce Lean to the team and we started out focusing on 5S and the eight wastes. Well, as time progressed, and in another role that I had, I was the Training Manager. And so we had a new Site Director and one of the things that we identified that was very important for everyone within the facility to be knowledgeable about was to be knowledgeable about Lean.

I began to do some research and discovered that there was a certification program available, but it was only designed for Managers. I thought although that’s good, that doesn’t make a lot of sense because why have one segment of the business population who understands these terms and these methodologies, but those members of the workforce who are executing and are closest to the process and driving the change, they need to be aware of it as well. I remember submitting a proposal to the Site Director at the time and I said, “We all need to speak the same language.” I said, “Can I take this content and modify it and roll it out across the site?” and he said, “Absolutely.”

You talk about creating a learning organization and creating an organization of problem solvers, nothing was more exciting than when you would be in a work area and you’d see Repair Technicians and Testers and Shippers and Receivers who ran into an issue and would pull out an A3 template, recognizing that it’s not a report that you fill out at the end, but it’s something that you follow to go through the steps of the Plan, Do, Check, Act or the Plan, Do, Study, Act cycle and find ways to close the gap of where they are in a process or whatever it is that didn’t go as planned to how the process should work. They were identifying solutions in real-time, and then they would bring in the Team Leader, or the Supervisor, or their Manager to get the buy-in or ask about additional resources that they would need to do to test the experiment that they wanted to run.

That is what Lean is about. It’s not just about learning the tools, but putting information into the hands of people so that they can affect change, so that they can use their creativity. Again, it’s just a win-win for everyone.

B: Yeah, and they are engaged, and they see that someone’s listening, and they’re more productive. They want to improve because they know someone’s listening and they give better customer service and the customers like that and they come back. Yeah, it’s a no-brainer, but sometimes I think to make that connection is a little difficult and they don’t see how getting people engaged, which is a big problem in a lot of organizations, how that really does impact the business directly.

D: So we when we think about change as adults, just as human beings, change can be– I don’t want to say it can be hard, but it’s something different. I think most of us recognize the need to change, but sometimes what can be a little daunting is where to start because we visualize the end goal of ultimately where we want to be and we’re not sure of the first step to take. I think that that applies within some organizations. When I approached that Site Director and said, “Hey, I want to change this content, I want to roll it out across the site,” when we started out, we had a plan and we started out with smaller baby steps with the end goal of having everyone across the facility, which at that time, I believe was over 350 employees, who will be knowledgeable about Lean and how to practice it.

You mentioned earlier that I’m a proponent of the Toyota Kata. I’m a huge Toyota Kata fan. I’m a self-proclaimed Kata geek. The reason I say that is because practicing the Toyota Kata, especially the four steps of the Improvement Kata, it really helps to help with that shift in mindset because when you have that big dream or goal that you can be excited about, you can also get overwhelmed. When you follow the steps of the Improvement Kata, and you understand the first step that you need to take, and it’s a small step, and after you grasp the current condition and you see where you are in relation to, ultimately, where you want to be and working towards direction or challenge, well, then next you figure out your next target condition. How do you want things to look on your way to the challenge? it should be small enough that you’re like, “You know what? I can do this,” and you start. You take all those things we’ve learned about continuous improvement, and that applies towards running the experiment to get closer to that target condition on the way to the challenge.

When we look at how we want culture to evolve within our organizations, and how we want people to feel included, and how we want to delight the customer, whatever these big goals that we have or objectives and aspirations that we want to achieve, we have to start somewhere. I think starting out small helps it not to feel so overwhelming. That’s a lot of what I try to share with people I work with, whether it’s with strategic planning or the strategic vision boards or the strategic visioning that I do with individuals or groups, is, yes, you have this ultimate goal that you’re trying to reach, but what’s the next small step you can take to get there in a week or two weeks or within a month? breaking it down that way, it’s just easier to manage and, like I said, you don’t get so overwhelmed.

B: Yeah, because we’ve all been, I think, part of these big, huge plans that are year-long, two-year long plans bound to intricate details and it’s like this plan’s out the window after the first month. You have this idea that everything can go smoothly and you don’t even know if that’s the right path to go. You still have the same target you’re going for, but how you get there, you don’t really know. I think that’s really freeing for people. I agree. I think that it really helps people not think about it as this I’ve got to get this perfect and we’ve got to hit all these milestones and stuff that are just really a good guess but you don’t really know.

D: Yeah, and that’s the thing about it. As we aspire towards perfection and working towards true North, oftentimes, we think well it has to be perfect right out of the gate. What’s most important is to get started. With what we know in practicing Lean, there are things you’re going to learn along the way, and with those things that you learn, following that Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle, you reflect, you take what you’ve learned, and you determine your next step. Then you continue to build and continue to improve upon that step and upon that process.

B: Yep, nice. You said you had a lot of different experiences, and including some with some nonprofit organizations. Could you just kind of describe some of those experiences and how you think Lean and process improvement kind of fits into those different worlds, I guess, in terms of the challenges that they have and what they’re trying to accomplish where there isn’t a profit motive we can talk to necessarily?

D: I have worked for a nonprofit, I have worked with nonprofits in doing workshops and helping to provide guidance and direction with some of the goals that they’re trying to reach. I’m very fortunate right now, I’m serving on the board for a nonprofit. But one nonprofit that I think people hear me talk about most often is my affiliation with my sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. I am a 23-year member and, over my tenure of membership, I have served and I’m serving on a chapter level, I’ve served on a regional level, I’m currently serving on an international level. Pretty much wherever I go, continuous improvement comes with me, specifically practicing the Toyota Kata, because it’s my goal to create a world of problem solvers and I think one of the best ways to do that is to establish these learner/coach, mentor/mentee type relationships.

Within the sorority, I’ve been very fortunate. Some of the roles that I have served in are typically connected to our standards and our procedures and our policies, so engaging other members of the sorority to look at ways how we can improve processes so that we’re working smarter and not harder. Because the other thing about nonprofits, the monies that we generate goes back into helping the communities, and so it’s really important that we’re efficient and that we’re not wasteful. So looking at ways to streamline processes to maximize those among our group of volunteers because, as sorority members, we all serve as volunteers doing this community work, that’s really important.

I’ve also had an opportunity to, in my chapter, here in Indianapolis, Indiana, we have close to 600 members. I’ve been very fortunate. One of the past roles is I was the Co-Chairman of our Leadership Development Committee, and so again looking at ways to– We developed something called Affinity Groups. The committee and I, we worked together to establish and group people in like professions and look at ways to help them thrive and be successful in their positions. Not only that, for students who are in college and they were looking for mentors, connecting them with people who were actively serving in education or healthcare or what have you that could be a mentor for them. Retirees that have gone through the journey and they have great reflection, they have great information to share, connecting those groups. And then pulling those resources together to take those talents to take what they’re learning in these Affinity Groups from different books that are being read or articles that they’re reading, and turning that into public service and using that information as there’s strength in numbers, there’s strength in that volunteer group to have a positive impact on the work that we do in the community.

With that Affinity Group initiative that we had in our chapter, a number of members of my chapter, anyone who’s talked to me more than 10 seconds, they always hear me talk about the Kata, and so they asked. as we were developing these processes and as they were looking for ways to improve, they were able to make that connection.

And then, too, we have members of our organization who are Lean practitioners, who are Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belts and Black Belts, and so again, we all see ways to connect what we do to continuous improvement with what we do in a volunteer organization, like I said, that has a benefit to our community. And then, of course, that aligns with the international objectives for our sorority that’s been set out by the current administration, which is led by Dr. Glenda Glover. The work that we do has an impact on education, on women’s healthcare and wellness, and even a global impact. There are things that we’re doing across the world that tie into environmental justice and things that are right for our community and a foundation that we use for that is Lean.

B: When you’re talking about volunteers being more efficient so they can go and do more volunteering and maybe spread some of what they’re learning to these other groups that they’re helping with, I think that’s kind of a really interesting and cool approach. Because we’re a part of the Lean Portland group with Maria and Amanda and Matt and me, and we have had to think about how do we do this smarter and better so we can be more effective when we go work with nonprofits. And so I think that’s kind of a double benefit there when you can teach the people doing the volunteering to be more effective at how they do that.

D: Absolutely. When I worked at a nonprofit, and what we know about nonprofits is that the level of accountability and commitment they have to the mission, to having an impact in the community, to bring about change, for when donors make their donations to maximize and get the most out of those investments, and then the program recipients, those people who benefit from the programs and services that are being offered, and then volunteers. I don’t know about your experience in working with volunteer organizations, but usually, when people raise their hand to say, “I want to volunteer. I want to do this work. I’m not expecting pay,” those people are far and few between sometimes. Typically, those volunteers, they have other responsibilities. They may have a full-time job, they have family commitments or what have you, so it’s really important that when they come to do the work, that it makes sense, that they’re not spinning their wheels, that they’re not sitting around waiting, that they can maximize their time and their talent and their resources to benefit and connect back to the mission of whatever it is the nonprofit is working to accomplish.

That was a lot of fun for me when I worked at a nonprofit. I served in a role, that’s why I shared that, it was a combination between human resources and continuous improvement. It was so rewarding introducing continuous improvement not only to staff but to volunteer staff and members of the board to be even more efficient with the work that they were doing that, ultimately, like I said, has a positive impact on the community and the people who they serve.

B: Yeah, my experience has been a lot of burnout with volunteers and staff, which I was really surprised. There is a strong mission work that they all carry with them, but I think because they’re struggling with overwhelm and keeping staff low, or a lot of people call that Lean, which is a terrible way to describe it, that’s not what we’re trying to do with Lean, but they say we already are Lean because we only have three people and we’ve got 30 people’s worth of work and that burns people out. It’s over-exertion. It’s one of the wastes that we want to spot and identify. To lose somebody’s passion for that mission and for that work because they’re just overwhelmed with the amount of work needed or everything being dumped on them because there’s a lack of process or there’s a lack of structure or we don’t have clear definitions of what the value is or whether this is value-added or not.

Yeah, I think that’s where a lot of opportunity could be is to keep people engaged so they can focus on the real work that they signed up for. I’ve heard this with government groups too, is you signed up because you want to help people and here you’re stuck doing paperwork that you kind of know is non-value-added but you don’t have a way of dealing with it. So I think that’s really disrespectful to have people who want to contribute and give their own time and then have a bad experience like that.

D: Brion, I think that is why the work we do specifically, like the work you do with Lean Six Sigma for Good and the work I’m doing in collaboration with other members of the Lean community with the hashtag #RootCauseRacism Movement, and then when I think about the span of my career, early on, as a child even, as volunteering and serving in different leadership roles with different organizations that I was affiliated with, the common theme is people do get burnt out. People can get frustrated when they feel like their ideas are not being heard, they’re not taken into consideration, and that they’re on a hamster wheel going nowhere. One of the eight wastes, skills underused or underutilized. People having talent, capability, and it just goes unrecognized.

You want to talk about something that just makes me madder than a little wet hand is when we get to the point where skills are not being used. What I mean by that is– I get so worked up and so passionate about this, so let me step back a little bit. Part of the reason why practicing the Toyota Kata is so important to me, and why I’m leaning more into the work around strategic planning and strategic visioning is because, as leaders, when we have clear focus, clear direction with what we’re trying to move towards, no matter if we’re in a corporation, a nonprofit, no matter where we are, if we have laser focus with, ultimately, where it is we’re trying to go and we’re able to cascade that information to our teams and help them see the why, not just the what, don’t just come in and read this process and build this widget or check this box, but understand the why and how they’re connected to the work, and then providing opportunities for people to be included for where they can speak up and share their ideas. Even if the idea isn’t selected or followed through, at least it’s heard and there’s some discussion around it.

What can lead to burnout is when people feel like I’m just here to check a box. If I didn’t show up tomorrow, would anyone care? but when people see how they’re connected to the bigger picture, even when you get tired, you’re able to keep going. I think about my experience with the sorority. Totally volunteer, and during our leadership conferences and our workshops and just different work that we do in the community, there are a number of my sorority sisters who will work hours upon hours upon hours, but they see how what they’re doing is connected to the overall vision, the mission, and purpose of the sorority. We realize that we’re being of service to all mankind and that our ideas are being heard and any improvement opportunities that we recognize, they’re considered. That keeps you going even when you’re tired.

If we can develop environments like that in our work world, in business, in nonprofits, wherever we have people and processes, creating those environments where people can thrive, that’s the game-changer. What we know and what we practice with Lean helps to drive that. That is the main foundation and the building block of the hashtag #RootCauseRacism Movement. We have these tools, we have these techniques. We know what is available to drive change and make sure people are feeling engaged and to dismantle structural racism, but it’s important to engage the people and make them feel a part of the process and show how these improvements can be made little bits and pieces at a time where people don’t feel overwhelmed, and where they don’t feel like they’re alone. That it’s a team, it’s a community, it’s a group working together towards this big mission or purpose that we’re trying to achieve.

B: Yeah, can you talk to #RootCauseRacism a little bit more and how it got started and just kind of what you’re working on right now this year with the initiative?

D: Sure. So hashtag #RootCauseRacism started out as a hashtag on my Facebook and Twitter personal accounts. It was motivated by the murder of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. I was so frustrated, I thought why do I continue to see people who look like me and members of my family, my loved ones having their lives snuffed out in just such a cold, heartless way? I was just frustrated and so I started posting that why can’t we get to the root cause of what is at the heart of these issues, and then I would end it with hashtag #RootCauseRacism.

So then I decided to start sharing those type of posts, trying to create some conversation and dialogue of how we can get to the root of these issues that we experience daily that tie back to structural racism. I started sharing those posts and educational articles and things like that on LinkedIn, and as a result of those posts, it grew into some very interesting dialogue, some that was positive and value-added, and some that was interesting. I’ll just categorize it as interesting. The people who didn’t necessarily agree with my post, and they felt like there was not a place for it on LinkedIn, sometimes I feel like sending those folks a thank you card because they motivated me to keep posting.

As a result of that experience, I was able to connect with other members of the Lean community, specifically Mark Graban, and invited me to write and share my thoughts around how we can use continuous improvement to address structural racism with I believe he called it a blog handover. It wasn’t like I was coming and taking it over, but to be able to use, his platform was, to share what it is we could do to start applying continuous improvement to addressing structural racism or dismantling structural racism. I said, “Well, I am willing to write a blog, but what I’d like to do is I’d like to invite some of my friends who are close to the process, close to this experience, and also who have a Lean background,” and we started out. We did this blog series using our vision and voices to #RootCauseRacism and it all started out as a vision board. I had a vision of what I wanted this series to accomplish.

After that blog series and the webinar, I just realized we can’t stop here. The goal of each blog series is to take something that’s happening connected to government, healthcare, education, and business where the issues we see tie back to the system, they tie back to systemic racism, and using Lean methodologies to address those issues and get to the root of them and figure out what is a call to action? what is something that we can do to begin to chip away and dismantle racism? like I said, we decided we couldn’t stop there and so we’ve continued on. We’ve had a number of series. There’s actually a website, It’s more of a community website where people can share best practices, share their experiences, where they can write blogs.

What #RootCauseRacism is working on next, actually I’m getting ready to extend an open call to anyone who wants to participate in the next series. We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of the first #RootCauseRacism blog series, and during this next series in August, we really want to focus on voter rights and addressing what we’re seeing across the nation where laws are being written and signed, created, making it so difficult for people to vote, for people who have the right to vote, causing limitations and restrictions to where we can’t vote. That’s a series that’s coming up, and then we’re continuing to build, creating education, awareness, and also those calls to action because what we know about, in practicing Lean, we have to do. We come up with our plan, but we have to do and check, and then act on what it is that the improvements that we want to make.

B: Yeah, it’s a big challenge and so you have to take it in small doses and small steps because it will feel probably overwhelming at times of do you get started and move this long issue.

D: Yeah, how do you get started, how do you get it moving, how do you keep it moving, and then where you feel like you’re not alone. Oftentimes, when I talk about the #RootCauseRacism Movement, I don’t say I; it’s we. We are a team. There are people who are out front with the blogs, who are participants on the panel discussions with the webinars, and then there are also people who are working behind the scenes. We all have this goal.

Again, plying the Toyota Kata, if I phrased the challenge statement for the work of hashtag #RootCauseRacism and linked it to what we do with the Kata is wouldn’t it be great if we could eradicate racism within my lifetime? is that realistic? but it isn’t. It is something aspirational. It’s something that we’re working toward and we’re working towards doing that one blog, one webinar, one workshop, working with one group, one individual at a time, helping people to identify small steps that they can take to impact change.

B: That’s great. I can’t believe that’s a year already. It goes so fast.

D: Time flies when you’re working hard.

B: Yeah. There’s a lot to work on, unfortunately. Anything else you wanted to share or bring up? I think we covered everything on my notes here, but any other final comments or thoughts?

D: Just my final comments, Brion, I want to encourage you to keep some– I’m a hashtag person– but to hashtag #KeepYourFootOnTheGas. Like I said, I follow your work, I follow your website, I follow what you do on social media. You and your colleagues, you’re doing great work taking Lean Six Sigma and applying it to all types of disparities and inequities that we see in our community to affect change, so thank you for the work that you’re doing. You’re making a difference and I’m so thankful to be connected with you. Thank you for allowing me to be on today. It doesn’t feel like we were recording a podcast. It just feels like hanging out in some of our typical conversations, so this has been great. Just like I said, keep your foot on the gas and keep moving on to the next one, Brion, and the same for your listeners that are following the recommendations that you and other guests are sharing of ways that we can apply Lean to make this world a better place.

B: Yeah, the same to you. I think what you’re doing is great and anything we can do to support that, just let us know.

D: Okay. I’ll remember you said that.

B: Yeah.

D: Remember you said that. I’ll be calling you, Brion.

B: Okay, hold me to it.

D: Trust me, I will. So the best way for people to get in touch with me, through my website, which is my name, When you access my website, that takes you to all my social media platforms, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. Also, it connects you to the RootCauseRacism website. So DeondraWardelle, d-e-o-n-d-r-a-w-a-r-d-e-l-l-e dot com.

B: You also have a High Five Friday.

D: Yes, High Five Friday. With High Five Friday, I enjoy that so much. That’s where, again, I want to help develop this world of problem solvers, and there are so many people who are practicing Lean and they may not realize it. In the High Five Friday feature, I like to spotlight those people who are making impacts within their corner of the world, and they’re using the tenants of Lean to do it. I really enjoy that and sometimes there are themes that I have. Like a few months ago, I had a theme about GottaKata, and so I was talking about how people are using the Improvement and Coaching Kata to make an impact.

Right now, I’m taking the High Five Friday, I’m doing some flashbacks during the summer because we’ve recognized some really amazing people that are continuing to build on what they’ve done historically that caused them to be recognized in earlier months. I’m featuring and spotlighting those people again so that people can see they didn’t just stop. They’re continuing to take what they’re doing and improve upon that to make a difference.

B: That’s great. Also about Kata, what’s a good resource for people? because I don’t know if we’ve talked about it that much on my previous podcasts, so do you refer them to the Mike Rother site or do you have another reference that you would recommend if people want to learn more about Kata?

D: Absolutely. So there are a couple of good places where people can go to learn more about the Toyota Kata. Of course, Mike Rother is on Twitter and, every day, it seems like he’s holding a mini master class with his tweets and just sharing good information about practicing the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata. Also, on my website, there are webinars that I’ve conducted, one of them, more recently, after I was one of the co-hosts of Katacon this year. As a follow-on to Katacon, I was invited by my good friends at KaiNexus to do a webinar, I did a webinar called Kata in the Community. I talked about all of the fundamental components of and the four steps of the Improvement Kata, the Coaching Kata, and then how to practice the Kata with doing community service and work within the community.

B: That’s great. I’ll put all those in the notes, so yeah, if you want to send me over some links, I’ll just post those in there and make sure everyone can access that.

D: Okay, that’s perfect. I’ll make sure I send those to you.

B: Okay. Well, thank you, Deondra. This was great. It was good catching up and learning a little bit more. I’ve heard bits and pieces of your story, but I really wanted to hear more about the nonprofit stuff, so really appreciate you sharing that and taking the time today.

D: Absolutely. Again, thank you for having me, and enjoy the rest of your day.

B: Okay, you too. Bye.

D: Bye.

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