Sunday, June 22, 2014

TPS Principle: Develop Your People-The Reading Club

As a review, here are the four Principles of the Toyota Production System (P4):
1. Philosophy (or Purpose)-Why are you in business? How do you SERVE the world?
2. Develop Your People and Partners
3. The Right Process will produce the Right Result
4. Make your Problems visible and the curriculum of your learning 

Sometimes we just might give lip service to "develop your people". How much time do we spend every day "developing" the most important asset of any business......people? How much time do we spend in any given week?

One of the beautiful benefits of doing A3 (autonomous, self directed work teams making continuous improvements, not every once in a while) is the fact that in the course of doing it you are simultaneously developing "your" people. People learn how to lead teams, play on teams, gain agreement, do root cause, implement countermeasures, and the most feared (after death & clowns) of all skills, public speaking (when the project "closes" they teach everyone else what they learned). Problems, customer complaints, defects, rework, etc. are the curriculum, and every single person in the company is invited to come learn. Companies that do hundreds of these DMAIC or PDCA cycles all around the company get very, very good at it, and they learn to solve harder and harder problems. This, my friends, is the definition of GROWTH.

THAT is one piece of "Develop Your People". Another piece is working to develop the company university. A structured, standardized curriculum where every person has the opportunity to become experts in things like TPS, Lean, and the company value streams. You don't need to start with a 40 credit, 4 year curriculum (that takes a while). ALL you need is a willing teacher and a willing student. I've seen companies build a University from a reading club. A small group of people get together at lunch and discuss a book they are reading together. Many of the companies I have the opportunity to work for read "The Toyota Way"or "Lean Thinking", "The Goal" or "Toyota Kata", "Managing to Learn" or "Follow the Learner". That is how my company university hatched! You can start today. Put up a sign up sheet and see who wants to participate. Do it during lunchtime, and bring them lunch. Make quizzes for each chapter. Make it fun. After a few weeks, ask one of the "students' to lead a chapter. Make the "club" visible on a bulletin board or company newsletter, and celebrate the people who participate.

Learning takes conditioning. I would argue that studying and reading takes as much conditioning as physical labor. It takes practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

Your reading club cuts across job descriptions and job titles, just like A3. Nothing makes me happier than people learning together! Start today!

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