• Bill Greider

A3 Beats Having to Go Back to Living with Mom and Dad!

My late father definitely instilled many important things deep into my brain. One snippet of wisdom came midway through my first semester as a football playing chemistry major at college. I also seemed to have acquired a taste for going out with my new friends, and maybe I might not have been balancing the three activities "to perfection". Our brief phone conversation started with him asking how things were going. I replied with "football was good" and "I met a girl I think I like", etc. He asked about my classes, and I told him they weren't as easy as I thought they might be. And then the wisdom came.

"Remember Bill, I refuse to finance a loser."

What he was struggling to say was that if I didn't "apply myself", I was going to have to foot the bill. Long story short, I studied when I was tired from practice, and only went out on a weekend night (not Sunday though). I definitely didn't want to find myself at age 30 living in my parent's house, in the old bedroom, with my Farrah Fawcett poster, screaming to my mother, "Ma!!!!!! Meatloaf again?!?!?!? I realized tuition should be paid only once......and by him, not me. 

Fast forward 25 years or so, just when I was starting my first "lean journey" as a member of our senior leadership team. I don't know about you, but sometimes I felt like we were paying tuition over and over for the same course. Have you ever experienced a sense of deja vu when a customer lodges a complaint? How about having to issue a credit for something you issued a credit for a few years back? God, I was thinking that if I kept this up, I'd be back living with my Mom and Dad.

What if we make up our mind that that we will only pay tuition ONCE for our "learning"? Instead of simply moving on, can we plug the problem into our A3 process and truly work to root cause so we implement a countermeasure that takes care of the problem for good? An A3 team works to leverage diversity and gain agreement as they proceed through the DMAIC and then teach the lessons learned to their peers at the A3 closing. The other cool part of this approach is it satisfies the "4th P" of The Toyota Production System (& P4 Lean Strategy), which is "Make Your Problems Visible and the Curriculum of Your Learning Organization". Beats meatloaf once a week.

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