Monday, June 4, 2012

The Tragedy of Unused Brainpower

Let's make an assumption that a person who does the same job for 40 hours per week for years is most likely pretty good darn at it. In fact, can we assume they are EXPERTS at what they do? That is the reason that these people need to be front and center when improving processes and solving problems.

As I've learned how to use A3 to accelerate corporate wide kaizan activity (small, continuous improvements every day), it became evident that the most mind boggling, brilliant, genius improvements can come from anywhere in your business. Do not assume they will come only from the engineers, the PhDs, the scientists, the managers or the supervisors. One of the most fun and satisfying things about A3 is you get to see exactly how smart the guy who works on a machine all day is. 

One of my core beliefs is that it is disrespectful for ME to fix YOUR process. When I teach A3, I insist that the person who works the process leads the A3 (kaizan). I ALWAYS get the same initial reaction (and I have done hundreds of A3s). They always say, "You want me? I'm no leader!." Conversely, I have seen 3 day kaizan "events" where the people who actually DO the work are not included on the kaizan team!!  Not only do I want them on the team, but I want them to lead it. And where is the A3 work done? Where the work is, of course. As people learn A3 thinking (similar to define-measure-analyze-improve-control), they become more and more confident. They realize they don't need to solve problems or make improvements alone, on an island. They have a team of diversified brains they are leading. Then they get to report on the team's findings in front of the rest of the company. At first, this is intimidating also. One of the top 3 fears humans have is public speaking. But it's really only scary the first, second or third time. After awhile, they get VERY good at that.

At one of the companies I worked, over 700 A3s (80 people) were done in one year! Currently, two of my clients have over 50 active A3s (kaizan) going on right now-and neither company has more than 100 people! This type of aggressive process improvement and problem solving is impossible if you waste brainpower!

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