Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Problems: Man's Best Friend

My best friend... besides problems, my dog Tessie waiting her turn for the bowl from my other best friend Minnie.

 Hunky dory is the sworn enemy of all Lean thinkers. That condition where all of our problems are hidden. We try not to think about them, definitely not talk about them. When someone asks, "how are things going?". We love to answer, "Great!" or "Wonderful" or "Just Hunky Dory". Lean leaders can't live i n that world at all. No matter how fast or smooth processes appear to be to the untrained eye, they see problems. We call this a "healthy disrespect for the current condition". Where others may see hunky dory, we see chaos.Where others may see "great!" we see a huge learning opportunity. This is the final P in the P4 Business Strategy: "Elevate your Problems and make them the curriculum of your organizational learning." 

This is alot easier to do when everyone has bought into the 3rd P-The Right Process will Produce the Right Result. What this means is people don't need to hide their problems anymore, because the blame game has been turned off. 

There are so many great sources of these wonderful problems in our organizations:
1. Customer complaints (you have to be willing to hear the voice of the customer). Just because they're not complaining doesn't mean they're happy, go find out!
2. "Employee" complaints-do you want to know what is wrong with your processes? Go ask them! They know, because they are the world's leading experts for their processes. They do it every day! Just because they're not complaining doesn't mean they're happy. (remember the emperor with no clothes?).
3. Product returns (see #1), defects, rework or scrap data.
4. Injuries-hits or near-misses. Bending, twisting, reaching, and lifting may all be great problems to address in processes.  

How do we build a culture where people throughout our organization are continuously digging for problems and solving them forever vigorously in their processes? Instead of ignoring them just to ship orders? We'll take that on next blog.

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