In the fall of 2013, I was approached by Anna Possio with a request for GBMP to collaborate with her organization, Leannovator, to produce a short video exemplar for Improvement Kata. I had known Anna and her family previously, as they marketed GBMP’s products in Italy and had helped us out on several occasions at our Northeast Lean Conference. Leanovator is a family business and it kind of felt like they adopted GBMP as an extended part of that family. So I readily agreed to GBMP’s participation but confessed that my background with Improvement Kata was limited. While the creator of this concept, Mike Rother, had spoken at our conference a couple years earlier and I had read his book, I wasn’t sure what GBMP could bring to the project. “Not a problem, “ replied Anna, “I will find the expertise and resources we need for this project.” A short time later I found myself in a planning meeting with Anna and Bill Costantino from W3Group. Bill was our Kata expert. We brainstormed a few scenarios that would demonstrate the spirit and method of Improvement Kata, and settled on a theme, which later became the title for our DVD: “Teaching Anna to Drive.”
Bill and Anna would eventually co-star in the video as Kata coach and learner. But first, there was a fairly arduous task of creating a script and storyboard. I’d been spoiled in the past, as most of GBMP’s videos required little collaboration or agreement. For those familiar with GBMP videos, our messages are usually simple, single point lessons and our genre is improvisational. For “Teaching Anna to Drive,” however, multiple revisions, including pointers from Kata author Mike Rother, telescoped the original project timeline but ultimately produced a script that was truer to the Kata concept.
Notwithstanding everyone’s sincere efforts to move the script along, nearly a year elapsed before we were ready to shoot the video. With Bill C. in Michigan and Anna in Torino, Italy, I felt at times that life was imitating art; that we were advancing the video process through a series of experiments. In the fall of 2014, we commenced the filming process, almost joyous that we had come this far. Finally, in February 2015, the DVD was complete, just in time for the Kata Summit in Ft. Lauderdale. I announced jokingly that the DVD had been “years in the making.”
We had reached our next target and decided to pursue a higher one still. In June 2015 GBMP submitted “Teaching Anna to Drive” to the Shingo Institute for award consideration, and in the spring of 2016, the video was awarded a Shingo Prize. Anna, unfortunately, was not able to be present for the award ceremony, but she let me know that she had been hard at work on the Italian language version: “Video formativo – Kata del Miglioramento.” Always a new challenge. Always a higher target condition.
In February of this year I learned with great sadness that Anna, not yet thirty years of age, had succumbed to pancreatic cancer. The sadness pervaded the globe extending to all her friends and admirers of which I was privileged to be one. We share our deepest condolences to Giorgio, Cristiano, Caterina, Francesco and all of Anna’s family.
So, one more target for Anna: GBMP has reduced the price of “Teaching Anna to Drive” to $30, and will donate 50% from each video sold to The Lustgarten Foundation for research to find a cure for pancreatic cancer as a tribute to Anna’s passion for Improvement Kata and contribution to the world of continuous improvement.