Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Power of a Defiant Attitude

"You have to do what others won't. To achieve what others don't.".......Anonymous

Taiichi Ohno, the "Godfather" of the Toyota Production System, pointed out years ago that if an organization is making even a modest profit, it is nearly impossible to sustain a strategy of continuous improvement.

One of the things I realized as I implemented lean the first time, was that nothing ever looked good enough for me anymore. Even processes that were 1000% better than they used to be. The only thing I could see was the defects! Particularly after I had a chance to visit other companies for benchmarking. I'm not sure this defiant attitude will win you friends, but it sure as hell will influence people. And not always happily.

Ohno is known for his direct, respectful approach to just getting better. One of the biggest obstacle to moving steadily toward FLOW is getting others to see ugly when beautiful is in style and so much easier to stomach. The "higher" up you go in an organization, the more likely you encounter "everything is wonderful". (see the Emperor wears no clothes).

To achieve the results you want, you need to have a defiant attitude! Understand that there are good days and "bad" days. Good days are when you win over one team member by convincing them that by improving their own processes, lean makes their job better and their customer happier. A bad day is when nobody seems to have time to do anything that moves anything toward flow. 

If you can coach well enough to inspire everyone to spend at least 15-20 minutes every day working to get better, a good day is when you ask people, "show me (NOT tell me) what you've learned", they can!! A3 is all about level loading this movement toward flow. The tortoise vs. the hare. I learned that A3 is the vehicle that allows people to spend those 15-20 minutes gaining consensus, leveraging their diversity, and solving problems. Every day. 

To achieve this, you need at least one knucklehead with a defiant attitude who never seems to take good enough for an answer.     

1 comment:

  1. I love your posts Bill. This is another great one. Thanks