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Lean Tools, Training, and Systems


for lean process improvement



In every process improvement or problem solving method, there comes a time when it's time to apply human thinking.


Human thinking is more effective when it is focused.

hansei - ponder


What's the difference between

Trance and Hypnosis?


State of increased mental focus.


State of increased receptivity to suggestions.


Although the two are often intertwined together, they are mutually exclusive.

Example of hypnosis without trance

Watching television.

Your mind is far from focused when you watch television.

And yet there is a multi-billion dollar advertising industry based on the market-proven truth that you are much more susceptible to suggestions when you are absentmindedly hypnotized by your television.

Example of trance without hypnosis

A football defensive linesman.

He's lined up at the line of scrimmage.

The quarterback is shouting signals.
The linesman is absolutely focused on smashing through his opponent and sacking that quarterback.

If the offensive linesman whispers some suggestion like,

"You're weak at the knees"

Do you think the defensive linesman will crumple at the knees?

Or do you think he might smash his opponent even harder for trying to distract his focus?

football line


How to use

Trance for Process Improvement

Step 1) Set your intention

Following the instructions on the Hansei page, set your intention.

Step 2) Enter a state of trance

See the section below to learn how to reliably trigger a verifiable state of trance.

Step 3) Utilize your trance

Following the instructions on the Hansei page.

How to reliably trigger

a Verifiable State of Trance

Option 1) Consistently Reliable Method

  1. Choose one word or short phrase to focus upon
  2. Sit quietly in a comfortable position
  3. Close your eyes
  4. Relax each group of muscles... from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head
  5. Breathing slowly and naturally, silently repeat your focus word or phrase each time that you exhale
  6. As thoughts (inevitably) enter your mind,
    simply let them go, and return all focus on your breathing and word or phrase
  7. Continue for at least 5 minutes, or until you feel noticeably relaxed yet alert

When ready... utilize your trance following the instructions on the Hansei page.


Option 2) Experiment with Other Methods

In their extensive study of practitioners of Transcendental Meditation, Herbert Benson, M.D. and his colleagues were able to use brain imaging and other methods to measure and validate scientifically observable body and brain pattern changes of skilled practitioners.

They hypothesized (and proved) that (what they called) the 'Relaxation Response' could by elicited in a number of different ways, not just by the method of Transcendental Meditation.

At first, they hypothesized that there were 4 essential components that would elicit the same brain/body patterns:

  1. A quiet environment
  2. A comfortable position
  3. A mental focus

    A sound, word, phrase, or prayer repeated silently or aloud.
    Or a fixed gaze at an object.

    Or any other relatively unchanging or slowly changing thing upon which to focus your undivided attention...

    such as sucking on a hard candy, or watching a slowly spinning disc.

  4. A passive attitude

    Not worrying about how well you are performing the technique.
    Expecting stray thoughts to inevitably intrude, and then simply setting them aside to return to the chosen mental focus.

They later discovered that only the last 2 components were essential —

the mental focus and the passive attitude.

The quiet environment and comfortable position were often helpful, but were not essential.

A person could be jogging on a noisy street, and still reliably trigger the scientifically measurable trance state.

Armed with these insights...

you can experiment with an unlimited number of ways to enter trance.


Option 3) Establish a Trigger

Once you become competently able to quickly and reliably enter a verifiable state of trance, you can shortcut the process, by establishing a trigger to instantly re-enter that familiar state of relaxed, empowered alertness.


Every time that you reach that phase of the PDCA cycle

(when it's time to get creative again)

you return to the Hansei page with the same warm beverage and perhaps you turn on that same empowering background music

Ideally 60 beats per minute, pulsing, rhythmic, wordless, inspiring, and not distracting. Headphones can also help reduce distractions.


and then you clear your mind with 3 long breathes, repeating your chosen word or phrase

And there you go

In less than 1 minute, you're back in your empowered state.

Go get 'em.

two bikers

Not just templates.
Not just training.

But also systems
that you won't outgrow

How do I know if I'm in Trance?

Most reliably... use a brain imaging device.

Don't have one? Here are some other clues...

Observe your body


When you have triggered the parasympathetic nervous system, your body's natural healing systems will kick in, giving signs like:

Of course there are also many other physical phenomena that are not as easily observed

(until you start outliving your stressed friends and coworkers)

such as increased limbic activity, increased galvanic skin response, increased flow of positive neurotransmitters such as endorphin, dopamine, enkephalin, leukocytes, lymphocytes, and other 'molecules of emotion' and 'molecules of healing'

Tingle test

As stated earlier... trance and hypnosis are distinct phenomena, but they often occur together.

One fun self-test for the state of hypnosis is the 'Tingle test'.

Once you believe you are nearing a verifiable state of trance, shift your focus to search your body for a tingle somewhere. Perhaps a tingle in an arm or a leg... or a foot or a hand.

Once you find a tingle, see if you can mentally cause the tingle to expand. To become more obvious. To expand to a larger patch of your body.

And then see if your mind might be able to duplicate a similar tingle on the other side of your body. Perhaps starting with just a small pin prick of a similar tingle, and then perhaps expanding on that side.

What else can I do with trance?

Once you know how to quickly and reliably return to your familiar, empowered state of trance,

Hansei problem solving is one of only many potential ways to utilize your empowered state.

Here are a few more ideas that you might experiment with:


Suggested Reading and Resources


Why is the founder of Systems2win a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist?

As a Process Improvement / Change Management consultant for several decades,
one statistic really bothered me.

Despite the investment of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and the investment of often several man years of effort, study after study concluded that about 50% of process improvement efforts still fail.


Every study concluded that it was usually "the people stuff", "the soft stuff", "human factors".


I started to look around for an adult learning program that focused on human behavior.

Traditional programs didn't fit.

Psychology and psychiatry programs are dominated with a focus on extreme mental debilitations, like psychosis, manic depression, paranoia, schizophrenia, etc.

Those just weren't the types of mental obstacles faced by typical work teams.

Typical teams faced much more common issues like bad habits, aversions, insecurities, stress, anxiety, apathy, resistance to change, addictions, unhealthy behaviors, underdeveloped interpersonal skills, lack of emotional control, emotional hurt, ruminating, anger, fear, worry, melancholy, lack of motivation, lack of follow through on commitments, and lack of mental focus.

I was surprised to learn that those types of mental issues were the focus of hypnotherapy.

In keeping with the foundational values and tenets of lean teachings, I "followed where the data led me", rather than "where I guessed it should lead me"

And that's how I was inspired to earn a graduate degree in Clinical Hypnotherapy.

~ Dean Ziegler, Founder of Systems2win