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  • Bill Greider

Steer Clear of Whoville


If a process doesn't give a good result every time, the PROCESS needs to be changed.


When we do root cause analysis, we do "5 Why" NOT "5 Who". Or, put another way, "if the student hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught. Stay away from Whoville. (if 5 why always ends up with training, do fishbone!!)


If you want to truly embrace lean thinking and if lean is your business strategy, then there are two simple irrefutable laws that you must believe from the bottom of your heart: PEOPLE CARE AND PEOPLE ARE SMART. Period. The end.


Nobody gets out of their car in the morning intent on making rework, scrap and mistakes. People are smart and people care, they just haven't been trained well enough, or the process is just not mistake-proof enough. That has to be our core belief. It is sometimes a knee-jerk reaction to jump to the conclusion that "people around here just don't care", or "if I told them once, I told them a hundred times!" Trust me, they do care, and they are smart. And if not, WHO was the knucklehead that hired and developed them?


As leaders, supervisors, foremen, etc., we generally don't do "value-added work." (work that your customer will actually pay for). Not many customers will accept a line item on your invoice called "supervision fee". As lean thinkers, the people who do value-added work should be considered our CUSTOMERS. If we make these customers happy, the people who pay us will be happy too. Also, one important component of the Toyota Production System pillar "respect for people" is to "not impose wishful thinking on our customer". Broken processes can be thought of as wishful thinking. I believe that one of the reasons Taiichi Ohno sometimes came off as so cranky was his frustration for managers allowing people to work processes chock full of the 8 wastes......defects (with the resultant rework or scrap), overproduction (more than is needed right now), waiting, non-essential processing, transport (moving stuff), inventory, motion (people moving unnecessarily) and un-used employee brainpower.


A3 thinking is really about respect for people. Process improvements are led by the experts.....the people who do the work. In the process of leading A3, you are continuously developing leaders. People capable of pulling a team together, leveraging diversity, doing root cause analysis, agreeing on countermeasures and presenting their learning to their peers. The focus of A3 teams is the process, not singling out or finding fault in the people who do the work.


The right process will produce the right result, and continuously develop your people and partners.....steer clear of Whoville!!!

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