Monday, June 29, 2009

Does it really matter if I "Go and See" or not?

The answer is YES!!!

I have to admit during my time as a Group Leader on the production floor at TMMK (Toyota Motor Manufacturing KY) I was guilty, on occassion, of doing certain levels of problem solving from behind my desk or at the computer. I was often in such a hurry to get my A3 written and turned in to my Managers that I would often forget the essential element in the problem solving process. I would usually tell myself-- "I just don't have time", or "I already know what the problem is". Do some of these comments/thoughts sound familiar to you? It's ok you can admit, I just did :0).

It was often a hard lesson to understand the importance of actually going to the GEMBA (japanese term for actual workplace) when your in the middle of those daily reactive moments of "fire-fighting". One of the many lessons the japanese taught me was: "What is more value added, spend time getting to the root cause, or only solving a symptom of the problem"? When we try to solve a problem from our desks we miss the experience of actually "seeing" the problem first hand, and also talking with the team members who know the problem characteristics better than we do. I consider them the "professionals" out there! This action helps build mutual trust and respect with your team members as well as the potential on the job development (OJD) opportunities with team members or leaders learning to understand good traits in effective problem solving or A3 writing process.
One of my favorite quotes from Taiichi Ohno (father of TPS) was: "Of course Data is important, but I place the greatest importance on facts or the truth". This statement is about Genchi Genbutsu (Go and See).... in some of my classes at the Toyota plants many have coined that japanese phrase "Get your boots on!". Meaning, go out to the floor, visit the GEMBA and find the facts; not assumptions and get to root cause. When you demonstrate this disclipline to your team members you are being an effective leader, and efficiently solving problems. Repetition of these actions can create a strong problem solving culture and awareness at the worksite as well as developing good habits in the way we think about our GAPS (Gap= a discrepancy in the Ideal Situation and Current Situation).
So the next time you are faced with solving a problem, and you find yourself falling into the time trap trying to solve it from assumptions or past experiences, just remember to "Get your boots on" and GO and SEE. You will actually find you will spend LESS time on your problem than chasing around symptoms. Until next time,
Tracey Richardson (Have a good 4th of July weekend!)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Process vs. Results - Which are you focused on as a company?

In Today's environment we are tasked with getting good results as a company...
my questions are: Are you using a good "process" to get there?
One may also ask: What are good results?

Some choose to get their results by luck, some manage by numbers, and most just stay in the daily reactive mode thinking they are going to get "there" one day.

So what defines a "good process" you ask?

A good process, in my opinion, has several essential elements to it. When a company decides to embrace change (shifting from traditional mind-sets); their way of thinking (the way we frame) must change too. I'm going to list a few elements below that I feel could change the way a company thinks/operates. I will say --It's simple its not easy>>> :o)
1. Does your company understand the purpose behind using a good process? (Why the need for change)?
2. Are you thinking in regard to your customer?
3. Do team members within your company have a "line of sight" (previous blog subject) to the company goals and values (Key Performance Indicators-KPI's)?
4. Does your company visualize problems for all team members to see? (not hide them).
5. Does your company have work/process standards in place to understand when there is a discrepancy from the current situation?
6. Does your company use a good problem solving process (PDCA) to identify, investigate, and solve problems?
7. Does your company use a good problem solving process (PDCA) to develop/challenge its team members through on the job development (OJD)?

I've listed only a few of the elements above(in my opinion) to implement a good process that will get you "continual and repeatable" results as a company, as well as a workforce that is encouraged to "think".
Some companies and their leadership will continue to "manage by numbers" turning their heads to their responsibility as coaches, and continue to give orders "because I say so", instead of offering development and wisdom as leaders should be.
For the short-term the practice of getting results by luck or numbers may keep them out of trouble with their bosses, but this is not the proven method for long-term growth, sustainability, or building mutual trust and respect with your team members. Just look at certain industries today that have managed this way. Do your results meet customer needs? Where do you wanna be as a company? Until next time
Tracey Richardson