Then I led the company onto our Lean Journey, and specifically, the Toyota Production System. We learned that one of the "4 Ps" is to "make problems visible and the curriculum of your learning." Problems suddenly became extremely valuable opportunities to improve, as long as we made them visible. They became visible by showing up on the A3 board. Complaints, scrap, defects, injuries, etc. Cross-functional, 3-5 person, self-directed work teams led by the people who actually do the work would grab onto the problem, and take it through the DMAIC (define, measure, analyze (root cause analysis, usually by five why), improve (countermeasures!) and control (little to no chance of recurring). At weekly closings, these teams would teach everyone else what the problem was, how they got to root cause, and what the countermeasure(s) were. As the completed A3s started to pile up (hundreds per year), I noticed something remarkable. I no longer had such a sense of deja vu! Suddenly we were always working on new problems, not retreads! No more Freddy Kreuger coming back again and again.
Countermeasures. The secret of success. The thinking here is that we will never ever pay tuition twice for the same class again. Sometimes the tuition is high, sometimes low. Doesn't matter. Sometimes paying tuition for dozens of small problems is as costly as an occasional big one.